The Pittsburgh Steelers won’t be engaging in a game of tag this year.
After franchising all-pro Le’Veon Bell each of the past two offseasons — the star running back played under the tag in 2017 but walked away from a $14.5 million salary in 2018, presumably to preserve himself for free agency — general manager Kevin Colbert announced Wednesday that he won’t apply the transition tag to Bell.
There had been speculation that the Steelers might transition Bell, an option that would allow them to match an outside offer and keep him or provide an avenue to potentially trade his rights to another club for some level of compensation.
But now Bell will apparently get his long-awaited wish — the ability to test his worth on the open market after maintaining he should be paid more like the wide receivers who command better contracts at the top of their positional market than running backs do.
He expressed his relief with a tweet saying: “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I am free at last.”
Colbert also stated that he will try to accommodate Pro Bo wideout Antonio Brown’s desire to be traded but “won’t give him away.”
Said Colbert: “By no means are we going to make a trade or any type of move that will not be beneficial to the Pittsburgh Steeler organization.”
The GM also said AB won’t be released outright and even hinted he might ultimately remain in Pittsburgh.
“I don’t think any relationship is irreparable,” said Colbert.
Tag: One franchise andidate for (almost) every NFL team
Top NFL free agents: Nineteen studs who could be available in 2019
Brown, whose relationship with the organization — and apparently quarterback Ben Roethlisberger specifically — has been fraying for months, leading up to his deactivation following a tumultuous lead-up to December’s regular-season finale, met with team owner Art Rooney II on Tuesday.
Brown tweeted after the meeting with Rooney (Colbert also attended) that “we both agreed that it is time to move on.”