Last night’s erroneous analysis of the running back franchise tag calculation from NFL Network, which pushed the idea that the release of Adrian Peterson will reduce the tender even though it won’t, provided one valuable service, albeit indirectly and unintentionally.
The #fakenews brought to light the fact that the exclusive franchise tender for running backs in 2017 will be dramatically lower than the non-exclusive tender. Which means that the Steelers can use either one on running back Le’Veon Bell, at the exact same cost. So which one would they/should they use?
The difference matters only if another team would be inclined to sign Bell to an offer sheet and surrender a pair of first-round draft picks if the Steelers don’t match. Given the position he plays, his injury history (three weeks ago, Bell said he still doesn’t know if he’ll need surgery to repair a groin muscle injured during the playoffs), and multiple substance-abuse policy suspensions, it’s highly unlikely that anyone (even one of the teams at the bottom of the first round) would cough up that kind of compensation for Bell.
Still, with the non-exclusive tag, Bell would be allowed to visit other teams and negotiate with them. With the exclusive tag, he’d be blocked from talking to anyone except the Steelers.
If the Steelers choose to use the non-exclusive tag, the message to other teams could be that Pittsburgh would be willing to trade Bell for something less than two first-round picks — and Bell would have the ability to shop himself via negotiation with interested parties. The decision that Pittsburgh makes in this regard therefore could say plenty about whether the Steelers are willing to move on from Bell, at the right price.