Published: Tue, July 18, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Ex-Spartans Cousins, Bell to play on franchise tag

Ex-Spartans Cousins, Bell to play on franchise tag

Bell will play the 2017 season at $12.1 million, the average of the salaries of the five highest-paid running backs in the league.

A pair of former Spartans, Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins and Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell, will play for the franchise tag this season.

If no deal is reached, the Steelers will have the option to use the franchise tag on Bell again in 2018.

Bell's one-year $12.1 million tag figure for 2017 puts him atop the running back market.

Bell had surgery in March, so he ought to be ready by now.

This doesn't mean that Bell won't finish his career in Pittsburgh, as Steelers owner Art Rooney II and GM Kevin Colbert had stated this winter.

The issue is complicated for both sides.

Another player who could sign a contract extension prior to the team traveling to Cleveland is tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who is now set to earn $615,000 in 2017 after being issued an exclusive rights tender ahead of the start of the 2017 league year. He rushed for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns last season, adding 75 receptions for 616 yards. "We will resume our efforts to address his contract situation following the 2017 season". The Steelers reserved that space for potential contract extensions with Bell, defensive end Stephon Tuitt and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva.

For now, the question is when Bell will arrive in camp.

The Steelers entered July with around $16.1 million in salary-cap space, according to NFLPA records.

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