Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN he’s prepared to sit out a season or even retire if franchise tagged for the second consecutive year.
“I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I would definitely consider it,” he said before Thursday’s practice.
Bell played on a $12.1 million franchise tag in 2017, and the number is projected to increase to around $14.5 million for next season. Teams can tag a player between Feb. 20 and March 6, after which they would have until July 16 at 4 p.m. ET to work out a long-term contract.
Last July, Bell turned down a long-term contract that reports said were worth up to $30 million in the first two years because he felt the team didn’t value his full skill set.
Asked what the Steelers should do this offseason, Bell said simply: “value me.”
“Just get the numbers straight exactly where we want them. I’m not going to settle for anything,” Bell said. “I know what I do and what I bring to the table. I’m not going out here getting the ball 400 times if I’m not getting what I feel I’m valued at.”
Bell said he would “probably be done” with football if he did sit out 2018.
“It will eventually come down to me playing on the tag or not,” Bell said. “They tag me again, it will be me (saying), ‘OK, do I want to play on the tag or do I not want to play on the tag?’ That’s what it comes down to. If I was a free agent and they let me go, be a free agent, then yeah, I’m going to go explore free agency, test the market.”
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