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Le'Veon Bell signs his Steelers franchise tender

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  • By Around The NFL staff NFL.com
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It's official -- Le'Veon Bell is back with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers star running back, who returned to the team facility briefly last week to take his physical, has signed his $12.1 million franchise tender, the team announced Monday.

Bell passed his team physical Friday after briefly arriving at the Steelers facility, NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala reported.

"I feel good, I feel great, I feel fresh," Bell said Monday, per Kinkhabwala.

With sides unable to come to terms on a multi-year deal before the deadline in July, Bell sat out the entirety of training camp and the preseason. As he had not signed the tender, the running back wasn't under contract, therefore not subject to fines by the team for missing time.

Bell and the Steelers are unable to negotiate on a long-term contract until after the 2017 season ends. The question at that time will be whether Pittsburgh will pony up to Bell's high demands, tag him again (which could lead to another standoff) at around $14.5 million, or let him hit the open market.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported in July that Bell turned down a multi-year deal that averaged more than $12 million per season, with $30 million over the first two seasons. The deal would have kept Bell as by far the highest-paid running back in the NFL. That, however, is not the goal for the Steelers back. The 25-year-old wants to be compensated in line with his standing as the team's top runner and No. 2 receiver.

The contract issues are for another day.

On Friday, the uber-talented dual-threat returned to an offense poised to put up big numbers in 2017. Until the offseason, Bell's focus will be helping Pittsburgh pound its way toward what it hope is another championship.

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