Le'Veon Bell threatens retirement if Steelers give him another franchise tag

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Last summer, Bell declined a long-term contract that was reportedly worth up to $30 million in the first two years because he felt the team didn't value his full skill set. Bell might have received a similar workload in the AFC championship loss to the New England Patriots a year ago, too, had he not aggravated a knee injury that limited him to six carries, with four of them coming in the first seven minutes of the game. He made $12.1 million under the franchise tag this season.

"We understand we have a great group here", said Bell, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

The problem for Bell is the amount of money he wants. He was slated to hit the open market a year ago before the Steelers placed the franchise tag on him, fearful he would sign elsewhere. "I know what I do and what I bring to the table".

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Bell rushed for 1,291 yards in 2017 - his third season with at least 1,200 yards - and ran for nine touchdowns. He said on Thursday: "I hope it doesn't come to that, but I would definitely consider it".

Bell's threat to retire is probably a bluff, but that doesn't mean he has no right to be exasperated at playing another season under the franchise tag (which pays a player no less than the average of the top five salaries at his position). The three-time Pro Bowler wrote that his main priority is winning a Super Bowl right now and that "what happens next year is irrelevant to my goals". "I'm not going out here getting the ball 400 times if I'm not getting what I feel I'm valued at". Teams can tag a player between February 20 and March 6, after which they would have until July 16 to work out a long-term deal. It sounds picky, but saying "I can/could care less" implies that it's something you really care about. "I just want to be valued where I'm at", per ESPN. I'm not going to settle for anything. But for the Steelers it could net them more now than it would letting him walk as a free agent this offseason and possibly earning a compensatory pick (likely a third-rounder) in 2019. But he indicated Thursday that's not the kind of deal he's interested in.

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