Bell and the Steelers were not able to come to terms on a long-term extension.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and running back Le'Veon Bell were not able to come to terms to a long-term contract extension before the 4 p.m. deadline on Monday, meaning Bell will play on the $14.5 million franchise tag.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport first reported the news, saying it is likely that Bell will not "show up for a while."
Earlier on Monday, ESPN's Adam Schefter said it is possible bell sits out for as much as half the season.
"I think it's possible Le'Veon Bell sits out the first half of the year if he doesn't get a long-term deal done," Schefter said. "The goal at that point would be to hit 2019 free agency healthy, not rack up another 400 touches."
Bell acknowledged his desires to retire as a Steeler on Twitter, but maintained that the NFL is a business.
to all my Steeler fans, my desire always has been to retire a Steeler...both sides worked extremely hard today to make that happen, but the NFL is a hard business at times...to the fans that had hope, I’m sorry we let youu down but trust me, 2018 will be my best season to date...— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) July 16, 2018
Via Le'Veon Bell's agent Adisa Bakari: "His intention was to retire as a Steeler. But now that there's no deal, the practical reality is, this now likely will be Le'Veon's last season as a Steeler."— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 16, 2018
More: "It became clear the Steelers wanted to pay the position, not the player."
Bell held out last season until the first week of September after facing similar issues with the Steelers front office.
Widely considered the best running back in the NFL, Bell rushed for 1,291 yards and received another 655 last season. He finished with 11 total touchdowns for the AFC North champion Steelers.
If Pittsburgh wishes to keep its "Killer B's" of Bell, Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger together, it appears they will eventually have to shell out a long-term contract for their star running back.