The Pittsburgh Steelers will not tag Le'Veon Bell and will make the running back an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year, general manager Kevin Colbert said Wednesday.
"Le’Veon is still a great player," Colbert said, according to ESPN. "We can’t afford to use any other type of tags. Le’Veon will be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year."
It was reported in early February that the Steelers were still contemplating using the transition tag on Bell this offseason, but Colbert's comments negate those prior rumors. The window opened for NFL teams to hit players with tags on Tuesday.
By using the transition tag, Pittsburgh would be able to match any offer sheet the running back signed with a different team to keep him with the Steelers.
Issues arose regarding what the price on a transition tag for Bell would be. The NFLPA argued that the tag should be around $14.5 million while the league and the Steelers are pushing to keep the tag closer to $9.5 million because of Bell's holdout.
Bell took to Twitter on Wednesday to celebrate his upcoming free agent status.
The 27-year-old running back sat out the entire 2018 season in lieu of signing a franchise tag for the second straight season. His last full season, in 2017, yielded 1,291 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdown, plus 85 catches for 655 yards and two receiving touchdowns. By not signing the contract and skipping last season, Bell missed out on making $14.5 million.
Bell is a two-time All-Pro in five seasons with the Steelers. A second-round pick in 2013, Bell has three seasons with at least 1,200 rushing yards and 600 receiving yards.