The Pittsburgh Steelers are still dealing with their ongoing situation involving star running back Le’Veon Bell as his holdout from the team continues.

His long-term future with the franchise beyond this season is up in the air, as there is no clarity concerning if the team has any interest in bringing him back on a lucrative deal. That said, Tom Pelissero of The NFL Network reported that the understanding is that Bell would play under a third franchise tag if it is worth north of $25 million. (h/t Austin Knoblauch of

“My understanding is the NFL management council and the NFL Players’ Association, the parties that negotiated the collective bargaining agreement, are on the same page that if Bell were tagged a third time, whether he shows up this season, whether he sits out the entire year, that tag would be at the higher quarterback number, not the lower number similar to what he would be due under the franchise tag this year,” Pelissero said on NFL Up To the Minute on Tuesday. “It would be extremely unlikely for the Steelers to put that higher third franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell. That would set up a scenario where they’d tag him a third time, the number is upwards of $25 million and Bell, if he wanted to, could walk in the day he’s tagged, sign it and be owed $25 million for one season.”

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If the Steelers do desire to use the franchise tag on Bell once again, he’d finally get the number he desires, essentially the salary that quarterbacks make. However, the fact that both sides have been unable to agree to a deal that would pay him a significant salary makes this possibility bleak.

It also doesn’t help that second-year running back James Conner has proven to be a more than capable option in the backfield. Conner has shown to be one of the most productive running backs in the league that can be a huge factor as both a runner and receiving option.

Ultimately, this situation has the makings for the Steelers to decide to part ways with Bell next offseason with Conner firmly in place as his replacement.