The Pittsburgh Steelers aren't letting Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell hit the free-agent market. The Steelers placed the franchise tag on the 25-year-old, the team announced Monday.
According to multiple reports, the team placed Bell under the exclusive tag, which allows both sides until July 15 to agree on a long-term deal. Another team could sign Bell but that team would have to give the Steelers two first-round picks if Pittsburgh opted not to match the offer.
Bell, who should earn more than $12.3 million under the tag, had another spectacular season that was cut short in 2016. He ran for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns in just 12 games last season, missing the first three games of 2016 due to a suspension. He suffered a groin injury in the first quarter of the Steelers' AFC title game loss to the Patriots.
Bell, who was named to his second Pro Bowl, was also a threat in the passing game coming out of the backfield, catching 75 passes for 616 yards and two touchdowns.
The Steelers now will shift their focus on securing Pro Bowl wideout Antonio Brown to a long-term deal.