Steelers put Le'Veon Bell contract negotiations on hold
Le'Veon Bell's contract talks will have to wait at least another month, according to Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert.
Colbert said the Steelers will put their negotiations with the standout running back – who was franchise tagged – on hold to focus on Pittsburgh's future endeavours in the upcoming draft and the remainder of free agency.
The Steelers GM added that it is "unlikely" Pittsburgh will rescind the franchise tag placed on Bell earlier this month but will eventually revisit discussions with the Pro Bowl rusher's representatives with the hope he will still attend training camp.
"At this point, after we tagged Le'Veon, we move into other matters of free agency," said Colbert. "We [also] continue with draft preparation, so it's really not anything we're choosing to ignore, it's just the circumstances of other things that need to be taken care of at the moment.
"Free agency takes precedence, but we're also trying to keep up with our draft operation as well."
After threatening to sit out or retire if the Steelers used the franchise tag on him for the second straight year, Bell said he would not sit out the regular season, though he confirmed he will repeat his stance from last year and wait to sign his tender ahead of the start of the regular season.
Bell's one-year tag is worth $14.544million, which is up from the $12.12m he earned under the franchise tag last year.
Asked if he was confident that a deal could be reached, Colbert replied: "I think so.
"I mean we are where we are. We're not intentionally ignoring that. It's just that more urgent business needs to be taken care of, and again, we'll reassess where that is.
"We're going to reassess where his interests are as well. Again, I anticipate us continuing that process once it gets through the free agency period, and maybe even through the draft, because the draft can change things on both sides."
The 26-year-old finished with 321 carries for 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns in 15 games last season. He has 7,996 yards from scrimmage through 62 games over his first five NFL seasons and eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark three of his five years.