Notebook: Steelers to place franchise tag on RB Bell

The Pittsburgh Steelers will again use the franchise tag to retain Le’Veon Bell, the running back told ESPN.

Bell was informed of the team’s decision on Monday ahead of the 4 p.m. ET deadline Tuesday for NFL teams to designate an unrestricted free agent on their roster as a franchise player.

Bell was frustrated by negotiations last year and turned down a reported five-year, $40 million deal in 2017 before playing last season under the franchise marker. He held out for all of training camp and totaled 1,291 rushing yards and nine TDs in 15 games.

Franchising Bell, 26, would cost the team around $14.5 million for 2018. He earned a base salary of $12.12 million last season after the Steelers placed an exclusive tag on him. Bell told ESPN in January he would consider retiring if asked to play another year under the tag.

–The Dallas Cowboys placed the franchise tag on Pro Bowl defensive end Demarcus Lawrence after being unable to reach a deal on a long-term contract.

The 25-year-old Lawrence led the Cowboys with 14.5 sacks in 2017, playing all 16 games while earning his first Pro Bowl selection.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said last month that the team prefers a long-term contract rather than using the franchise tag.

–Suspended Oakland Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith, who is being sought by police for allegedly fleeing the scene of a domestic violence complaint, has checked himself into rehab, his fiancee told TMZ.

The Raiders announced they are releasing Smith from the suspended list. Smith, 28, hasn’t played since being suspended midway through the 2015 season after pleading guilty to an August 2015 DUI and hit-and-run incident.

Smith’s fiancee told TMZ she was the victim of the alleged domestic violence incident Saturday night in San Francisco. She said her parents took Smith to rehab at his request.

–The Philadelphia Eagles have received “multiple trade offers” for Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles but are asking a high price, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported.

While Mortensen says the Eagles will demand more than the first- and fourth-round picks they received from the Minnesota Vikings for Sam Bradford on the eve of the 2016 season, some other estimates have been far more aggressive.

MMQB’s Peter King said he believes trade negotiations for Foles will start with two first-round picks, while former general manager and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian said that if he were the Philadelphia GM, he wouldn’t field any offers that did not start with two first- and two second-round picks.

–Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant agreed to a new contract that will keep him in uniform until he’s 45.

The three-year extension with Bryant, the team’s all-time leading scorer, was announced by the Falcons.

Bryant arrived in Atlanta in 2009 to replace Jason Elam and went on to score 1,029 points. Only two other kickers have more points in the past nine seasons.

–Former Ohio State and Arizona Cardinals running back Chris “Beanie” Wells is seeking treatment for a brain injury after experiencing headaches and issues with his speech and memory.

Appearing on his Columbus, Ohio, radio show, the 29-year-old Wells said he recently underwent an MRI exam and believes the injury was caused by playing football.

Wells, a former All-Big Ten running back and NFL first-round draft pick, told listeners he had been absent from his radio show as he sought medical advice and treatment in California. He said he has struggled recently to find words before speaking.

–Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who did not play in 2017, officially retired after 11 NFL seasons.

Cromartie, 33, revealed the news on his Instagram account, thanking the San Diego Chargers, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals. He last played in four games for the Indianapolis Colts in 2016 before getting released on Oct. 4 that year.

“Today is the day I knew I would eventually have to face, but one I never wanted to accept,” Cromartie wrote. “After 27 years of playing football, today I say farewell. God blessed me with the opportunity to play in the NFL for 11 years, and after much consideration and prayer, I’d like to officially announce my retirement.”

–While there has been no shortage of rumors regarding Peyton Manning and a potential venture into the broadcast booth, Fox is reportedly upping the ante when it comes to building an All-Star lineup.

According to the New York Post, Fox’s “dream” scenario would be to hire Manning and have current Fox color analyst Troy Aikman hand off to him to make Thursday Night Football a “prime-time event.”

Fox and the NFL agreed in late January on a five-year deal that will have the network airing Thursday night games beginning this upcoming season. In an effort to make the Thursday games better stand out from the growing glut of NFL night games, the paper reported Fox wants Aikman to host a pregame show each week, which would then run directly into the game broadcast with Manning in the booth.

–Field Level Media