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Steelers GM: ‘It’s still our intention’ to sign Le’Veon Bell to long-term deal

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert insisted on Wednesday that the team still hopes to sign Le’Veon Bell to a long-term contract.

Despite a pervasive and continued sense of uncertainty on the issue, Colbert stressed that a deal can still be worked out with the running back. And that’s appears to be the Steelers’ plan going forward.

“No, it’s still our intention to sign Le’Veon to a long-term deal,” Colbert said while appearing on “Steelers Nation Radio” from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, via Steelers Depot. “Again, we know there’s a franchise tag and of course he and his representatives now that there is. We don’t like to talk about it, but it’s never something we’ll give away, of course. But their goal and our goal is to get a long term deal done and we’re gonna try to do that and we are trying to do it at this stage.”

Things have been at somewhat of a standstill in recent weeks on the contract front, a somewhat concerning development that came after both sides expressed optimism about hammering out a long-term agreement. However, Bell did express frustration earlier this month over the lack of a long-term contract — in part due to playing under the franchise tag last season — saying, “I’m tired of having to deal with this every year.”

Bell earned $12.12 million last season after being tagged by Pittsburgh and stands to earn $14.54 million for the 2018 season if the team does so again. Given Bell’s threats, that’s unlikely to happen, although Steelers conceivably could call his bluff, as Colbert indicated earlier this month the team would not rule out using the tag again on Bell.

That said, all signs point to the two parties working out a long-term contract before free agency begins in mid-March. And if that’s not the case? Bell already has made it clear there is one team he has no plans on joining. Although he hedged his bets afterward … to the tune of $100 million.