For the second straight year, the Steelers have exercised their prerogative to apply the franchise tag to running back Le'Veon Bell. For the second straight year, Bell has exercised his prerogative to not sign the franchise tag.
So when will Bell sign his one-year, $14.54 million tender? He should consider signing it before the 90-to-53 roster cuts are made on Saturday.
Article 20, Section 4 permits the Steelers to place Bell on roster-exempt status for up to two weeks of the regular season. Section 4(a) specifically requires the Steelers and Bell to agree in writing as to what his compensation will be while on roster-exempt status.
This gives the Steelers license to play hardball with Bell, if they choose to do so. Really, why pay him more than $855,000 per week if he’s not going to play for the first two games, against the Browns and the Chiefs? And the Steelers may be inclined to not let him play the first two weeks of the season, given that it took him a few weeks last year to get up to speed.
Bell can avoid this potential wrinkle by simply signing his tender before the rosters are cut. And the Steelers can avoid that wrinkle and several others by rescinding the tender entirely, something that the Steelers continue to have the right to do until he signs it.