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#pounditSaturday, August 8, 2020

Steelers could still use transition tag on Le’Veon Bell after season

Le'Veon Bell

Le’Veon Bell is expected to report to the Pittsburgh Steelers during the team’s Week 7 bye week, which would end his holdout for this season. But his contract complications with the Steelers wouldn’t necessarily end there.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Steelers could still apply the transition tag to Bell after the season, and told Bell that they would do so.

The transition tag would give the Steelers the right of first refusal on Bell. Once transition-tagged, Bell would then have two options. He could sign a transition offer sheet, which would pay him either the average of the top-10 paid players at his position, or 120 percent of his previous year’s salary. Because Bell has not been playing yet this season, the Steelers could argue that his 2018 salary was only $9.4 million (assuming he reports in Week 7 as is being reported and plays in 10 games). 120 percent of $9.4 million would make Bell’s salary only $11.3 million for 2019.

Bell’s other option would be to receive a contract offer from another team. The Steelers would then have seven days to decide whether they want to match the offer. That would allow Bell to find out his true market value and give the Steelers a chance to decide whether they think he is worth it. Pittsburgh would not receive compensation if they choose not to match. But if they choose to match, Bell would be forced to sign with the Steelers.

Any team that uses the transition tag cannot also use the franchise tag in the same offseason.

Despite all the offseason drama, Bell says he still would love to sign with the Steelers long term.

One big question is how the reception will be from his teammates, who were critical of him for his holdout.

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