Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is thinking positive as it relates to the franchise tag negotiations surrounding superstar running back Le’Veon Bell.
Tomlin told WAVY Channel 10 in Virginia that he would like the Steelers to sign Bell to a long-term contract prior to Monday’s deadline (4 p.m. ET).
“Obviously we want to get a deal done, he wants to get a deal done, everybody has said that,” Tomlin said. “Now it’s just about the negotiators getting into a room and doing what it is they need to do. I’m excited and hopeful. Hopefully we’ll have some exciting news before Monday.”
Tomlin expressed a similar sentiment prior to last year’s deadline, when the Steelers failed to sign Bell. The running back didn’t report until training camp ended and signed his $12.12 million tag on Sept. 4.
Should Bell and the Steelers fail to come to terms this time around, he will play on this year’s tag — worth $14.5 million. Multiple media reports have Bell seeking at least $17 million annually.
“I don’t want to have the replications of what happened last year,” the 26-year-old Bell said in late June. “But if that came down to that, obviously I got to do what I got to do. Take my stand and protect myself. I don’t want to have to do that. I want to go to camp and play for the Steelers long term.”
Bell ran for 1,291 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns last season while catching a personal-best 85 passes for 655 yards and two scores. He was third in the NFL in rushing yards and 10th in receptions.
The Steelers finished the 2017 campaign with a 13-3 mark before dropping a 45-42 decision to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs.
The team reports to St. Vincent College for training camp on July 25.