Bell says talks with Steelers ‘a lot closer’ than last year

Le’Veon Bell sounds hopeful that a long-term deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers might finally be within reach.

Bell opened up about the negotiations during an appearance Monday night on the NFL Network.

“Obviously, the people in the organization try to do what’s best for them and I’m trying to do what’s best for me,” Bell said. “We’re working on it. We’re a lot closer than we were last year at this time. That’s what I’m happy about. None of that matters if we don’t get it done. Hopefully we’ll try to get something done. That’s what I’m looking forward to. I got confidence we’ll get it done. I want to do it.”

Bell sat out training camp last season, not reporting until Week 1. He says he’s hoping to avoid a repeat, but couldn’t rule it out.

“I don’t want to have the replications of what happened last year. But if that came down to that, obviously I got to do what I got to do. Take my stand and protect myself. I don’t want to have to do that. I want to go to camp and play for the Steelers long term,” he said.

Bell, 26, has been arguably the NFL’s most complete running back since being drafted by the Steelers in the second round in 2013. The Michigan State product has racked up three 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his five NFL campaigns. Adding to his rushing prowess is his impressive production as a pass-catcher. He has caught 312 passes over five years, including three seasons with 75-plus receptions.

On March 6, the team placed the franchise tag on the two-time NFL All-Pro for the second consecutive offseason.

Coming off a season with an NFL-high 321 carries, Bell is slated to make $14.5 million for the 2018 season unless the two sides can agree on a long-term contract to replace the terms of the franchise tag. NFL Network previously reported that Bell aimed to at least match the average annual dollars of Pro Bowl teammate Antonio Brown, a wide receiver whose newly signed deal last month averages $17 million per year.

–Field Level Media

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