Even in the prime of his career, Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell is threatening to retire if he is hit with the franchise tag again.
There is no debate how valuable running back Le’Veon Bell has been to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has been a three-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro in his five years out of Michigan State. At 25 years old, Bell has rushed for 5,336 yards and 35 touchdowns in 62 career games.
Bell still has plenty left in the tank professionally, but he’s not onboard with playing under the franchise tag again for the second straight season. He told ESPN on Thursday that he might even contemplate retiring or sitting out the 2018 NFL season if the Steelers slap him with the franchise tag again.
Bell was one of the few players that was hit with the hated franchise tag heading into the 2017 NFL season. This was not just because of the position he plays in running back, but his previous substance abuse issues. Bell appeared in just six games in 2015 and 12 in 2016 due to injuries and other off-the-field issues.
While Bell should not want to play under the franchise tag for a second straight season, that’s really up to the Steelers organization unfortunately. That being said, it’s strange to hear this come out before the Steelers’ first playoff game of the season.
They will host the No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend. Jacksonville crushed the Steelers in Pittsburgh months ago. There are no guarantees that the Steelers will get to the AFC Championship to face presumably the New England Patriots.
Bell is a huge part of the Steelers offense, but his regular workload may have him tire when Pittsburgh needs him most in the AFC playoffs. For Pittsburgh to advance to the AFC Championship, Bell will have to run all over the Jaguars defense. It’s a big challenge. Could we be seeing the last of Bell in an NFL uniform? That’s doubtful, but he’s definitely not on board with playing under the franchise tag again, that’s for sure.