Steelers, Le'Veon Bell fail to reach deal by deadline

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell

Steelers' star running back Le'Veon Bell was designated as the team's franchise player, which gives him a one-year contract valued around $12 million - the average salary of the five highest-paid players at his position for this season.

Speaking on NFL Network, Rapoport expounded on what Bell was looking for in a long-term deal. The two sides had until today at 4 reach a long-term deal. Our models project him for 1,390 rushing yards and 9.99 touchdowns on 295 carries, adding 85 catches for 713 receiving yards and 3.46 scores.

The Steelers could still rescind the franchise tag if Bell holds out deep into camp, but that's a near-nuclear option that would shock the entire league. "We will resume our efforts to address his contract situation following the 2017 season".

Both sides have valid points in this conflict. Keeping Bell on the field has been the major issue, as a combination of injuries and off-field problems has caused him to miss 17 games in four seasons.

For the Steelers' part, they seem to think that Bell will be ready to go once camp starts. Weeks later, Bell did it again - twice - with back-to-back franchise records for a single playoff game, breaking off 167 yards against Miami and 170 yards against Kansas City. But the NFLPA and NFL conspiring to keep many of football's best players from truly being free agents gets Bell my sympathy.

Bell might have avoided the tag and received a contract extension last summer, but the second suspension slowed any progress.