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Steelers expected to franchise tag Le'Veon Bell

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The Pittsburgh Steelers and Le'Veon Bell were optimistic they could come to an agreement on a long-term deal before the March 6 franchise-tag deadline came into play.

No dice.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Monday, the Steelers are expected to franchise tag Bell before Tuesday's deadline, barring a dramatic turn in talks, according to sources informed of the situation.

The second tag for Bell in two seasons is set to pay the running back $14.544 million in 2018. The question is if/when Bell might sign the tag. He sat out all offseason workouts last year before putting pen to paper on the franchise tender.

Sides have until July 16 to work on a long-term deal. If nothing is struck by that deadline, Bell would play under the one-year tender once again.

Bell and the Steelers had been optimistic a long-term solution could be hashed out prior to the tag deadline. Bell told NFL.com during the Pro Bowl that talks were "a lot further" along than last year. Alas, the running back's desire to reverse the negative trend in RB contracts kept a deal from getting done yet.

Bell wants to be paid like a No. 1 running back, and No. 2 receiver. In 2017, Bell rushed 1,291 yards (third in the NFL) on 321 carries with 9 TDs. He added 85 receptions (2nd most on Steelers) for 655 yards and two scores.

The 26-year-old Michigan State product told NFL Network during Super Bowl week contract talks were all "about the guarantees." Bell intimated it would take more than $30 million guaranteed to get a deal done. Thus far, the Steelers haven't been willing to make that financial commitment.

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