Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers have made significant progress on a contract extension, the star running back said Wednesday after Pro Bowl practice, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reports.
The Steelers have presented a contract offer.
“We are a lot closer than we were last year,” Bell said.
In 2017, Bell turned down a long-term contract and played on a $12.1-million franchise tag. A second tag would be worth around $14.5 million, but Bell told ESPN earlier this month he will consider sitting out the season or retiring if an extension is not reached.
Bell’s career average of 129 yards from scrimmage per game is the most ever for an NFL player over the first five years of a career.
Bell said he’s “happy” where things are and would like to avoid a repeat offseason that stretched both sides to the mid-July deadline before talks fizzled.
“I want to make sure everything is good,” Bell said. “I don’t want to have the same thing happen as last year. Time for something new … so we have no distractions.”
Bell also addressed the report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he blew off the Saturday walkthrough before the playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Bell said he had a personal matter, about which the Steelers knew.
“It is what it is,” he said. Multiple sources classified Bell as mildly late for the 30-minute session but not a distraction leading into the game.
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