The Steelers tried to set an artificial deadline for a long-term deal for running back Le'Veon Bell.
An actual deadline tomorrow may force their hand.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Steelers now appear likely to use the franchise tag on Bell by tomorrow’s deadline, marking the second year in a row for him.
That would cost them $14.5 million, and there’s no guarantee he’d be any happier about it this year than last, when he skipped offseason work, training camp and the preseason before showing up and having a good season.
The Steelers talked about trying to finish a deal before Feb. 20 (when teams could begin using the tag), but that came and went because there was no organic urgency.
Rapaport throws in the “barring a dramatic turn in talks” proviso, and there’s still time to negotiate. But it appears that with the clock ticking, Bell could be getting tagged again.