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Le'Veon Bell gets the franchise tag from Pittsburgh Steelers

28 February 2017

"I can say, unequivocally, that we want Antonio to retire as a Steeler, just like we want Le'Veon [Bell] to retire as a Steeler", general manager Kevin Colbert said on February 16.

The team announced on Monday that they would use their exclusive franchise tag on Le'Veon Bell, per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. The team is also working on a contract extension with star wideout Antonio Brown, which could affect Bell's chances of cashing in.

Pittsburgh and Bell will have until July 15 at 4 p.m. ET to work out a long-term contract.

It's the first time the Steelers have used the exclusive rights franchise tender.

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Bell, 25, stated his case as the game's best running back during an explosive 2016 season, when he averaged 157 yards from scrimmage per game, the third-best clip ever for a running back.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will be the highest-paid running back this year at $14 million. Negotiations on a long-term deal are expected to continue and terms could be agreed upon before the start of the 2017 season.

Bell has missed five games because of suspensions in the past two seasons for violations of the National Football League drug policy and also has ended each of the past three seasons injured. If both sides fail to agree to a new contract by that date, then Bell will play under the franchise tag for the 2017 season.

Bell earned just under $1 million in salary last season with a cap number of $1.13 million.