Le’Veon Bell’s deadline to sign: Explaining stakes, possible outcomes for Steelers RB

Last Tuesday was Election Day. Today will be Decision Day 2018 for Le'Veon Bell.

The all-pro running back must decide by 4 p.m. ET whether to report to the Pittsburgh Steelers and sign his franchise tag. If Bell shows, he'd be eligible to play the final seven weeks of the regular season while collecting the remainder — nearly $6 million — of his pro-rated $14.54 million tag.

If Bell stays away, he cannot play this season.

Here are a few other FAQs regarding his situation:

If Bell reports, will he get an extension?

No, at least not this year. The deadline for franchised players to sign a long-term contract in 2018 was July 16. For the second straight summer, Bell and the Steelers failed to strike an agreement. He could accept a multi-year deal with Pittsburgh after the season, but that would make little sense given free agency's lure in March.

Can the Steelers deal Bell this year?

No. The league's trade deadline passed Oct. 30.

Can the Steelers rescind the tag?

Yes. It would immediately catapult Bell into free agency. There's also no incentive for Pittsburgh to do that … so, basically, forget it.

Could Pittsburgh put the transition tag on Bell in 2019?

Yes. Its value, as yet undetermined, would be less then the franchise tag. It would also likely lure other teams to negotiate with Bell and spur him to sign an offer sheet. If Bell takes an offer, the Steelers would have the ability to match the terms, or else let him go to the new team. (A similar process exists for the franchise tag, but the bidding team would have to surrender two first-round draft picks if their offer sheet was not matched by the player's previous team — Pittsburgh in this case. If the Steelers use the transition tag, they would not receive any compensation beyond a league-issued compensatory pick if Bell signs elsewhere.)

Could Pittsburgh franchise Bell a third time in 2019?

Yes. But it almost surely won't happen. Bell would command a quarterback-level salary with a third tag, likely more than $25 million, a prohibitive number. The Steelers currently have about $20 million in cap space for 2019.

What if the Steelers don't tag Bell again?

Then he'll become a free agent in 2019, the outcome he's sought all along.

What kind of money is Bell seeking?

Who knows? According to NFL Media, he turned down a five-year, $70 million offer in July, when Atlanta's Devonta Freeman and Buffalo's LeSean McCoy were the highest-paid backs on multi-year deals, both in the $8 million range annually. Since then, Todd Gurley signed a four-year, $57.5 million extension, while David Johnson received an additional three years for $39 million. However, according to multiple reports, Bell had been seeking something approaching $17 million per season (which would bring him in line with teammate Antonio Brown, a wideout) since he feels his receiver skill set distinguishes him from his peers.

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Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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