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Steelers

Steelers' Le'Veon Bell threatens to sit out deep into 2018 season

Joe Rutter
| Wednesday, March 7, 2018, 10:03 a.m.
Running back Le'Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers boxes the goal post after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Oct. 15, 2017 in Kansas City.
Getty Images
Running back Le'Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers boxes the goal post after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Oct. 15, 2017 in Kansas City.

Le'Veon Bell is prepared to stay away from the Steelers much longer than last season when he didn't sign his franchise tender until the week before the start of the regular season.

Bell told Billboard.com that he might not join the team until at least halfway through the 2018 regular season when league rules dictate he must sign his franchise tag in order to accrue an NFL season. Bell previously told ESPN that he would consider sitting out the season or retiring rather than play under the terms of the franchise tag.

The Steelers used the franchise tag on Tuesday for the second year in a row, setting Bell's salary at $14.54 million. If the Steelers and the All-Pro running back don't agree to a long-term contract by July 16, he must play the season under the terms of the franchise tag.

"When the end of July comes, wherever we're at ... if I sign, everybody'll be happy, but if not, I guess I gotta play it by ear," Bell told Billboard. "If I'll be out till Week One, if I'll be out till Week Ten, or if I'm gonna be there at all. It depends on how I feel at that time and moment."

The Billboard interview was part of Bell's latest rap project. Bell also added that he's "definitely hoping for something to get done" with the Steelers before the July 16 deadline.

As long as Bell refuses to sign the franchise tender, the Steelers have the option of rescinding it. That could come into play this year if they sign a running back in free agent or select one in the April draft.

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