NFL

Steelers place franchise tag on running back Le'Veon Bell

PITTSBURGH (AP) The Pittsburgh Steelers have placed an exclusive rights franchise tag on Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell, ensuring he'll remain with the team in 2017.

The tag gives the Steelers time to work out a long-term deal with Bell, who could have become a free agent next month. The 25-year-old led the NFL in average yards from scrimmage last season and became the first player in NFL history to average at least 100 yards rushing and 50 yards receiving per game.

Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert said earlier this month the Steelers want to keep Bell with the organization ''for life.'' The team has until July 15 to reach an agreement with Bell on a new contract. If not, he will make the average salary of the top five running backs in the league in 2017.

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