Steelers, Le'Veon Bell fail to reach deal by deadline

As today's deadline approaches, the Steelers' contract negotiations with Le'Veon Bell are down to the wire

As today's deadline approaches, the Steelers' contract negotiations with Le'Veon Bell are down to the wire

Though, Bell himself has not yet signed the exclusive rights franchise tag tender Pittsburgh handed him during the spring.

Bell's one-year $12.1 million tag figure for 2017 puts him atop the running back market. Weeks later, Bell did it again - twice - with back-to-back franchise records for a single playoff game, breaking off 167 yards against Miami and 170 yards against Kansas City. Bell returns to the lineup for the Steelers on Sunday against Kansas City.

Despite intense negotiations between the two sides, the gap between demand and offer was too wide to bridge. Bell is set to make more money than any running back in the league this year as he plays on the franchise tag.

General manager Kevin Colbert says the team will "resume its efforts" to re-sign Bell next offseason.

Bell will be ready for the start of training camp, although it is not a given he shows up. The hefty franchise tag, Bell's historic production and his 16 missed games for suspensions or injuries over the last three years gave both sides much to sort out this summer. Bell wants to be compensated not just for running the ball, but also paid in line with his pass-catching ability.

Those forthcoming accounting expenditures and others aside, the Steelers still should have plenty of salary cap space needed to sign defensive end Stephon Tuitt to a new lucrative long-term contract extension prior to the start of the regular season. The Steelers begin camp July 27 in Latrobe.

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