The Pittsburgh Steelers and star running back Le'Veon Bell could not reach a deal by Monday's 4 p.m. deadline for players with a franchise tag in the NFL.
Bell's agent, Adisa Bakari told ESPN this probably means this is Bell's final season with the Steelers.
"His intention was to retire as a Steeler," Bakari told ESPN's Adam Schefter. "But now that there's no deal, the practical reality is, this now likely will be Le'Veon's last season as a Steeler."
This is the second consecutive year the 26-year-old Bell had the franchise tag placed on him by the Steelers and the second consecutive year the two sides could not come to an agreement on a long-term contract.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Bell turned down a 5-year, $70 million offer by the Steelers before the deadline. Bell reportedly turned an early long-term offer down of $13.5 million on average.
Bell released a Tweet yesterday afternoon that said: "... 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 you down but trust me, 2018 will be my best season to date..."
Bell will play this season for $14.5 million, then become an unrestricted free agent.
The Steelers released a statement Monday saying: "Even though we could not reach a long-term contract agreement with Le'Veon Bell, we are excited he will be with the team in 2018," Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said. "We worked very hard to find common ground, but we were unable to accomplish that prior to today's deadline. Le'Veon will play this season under the exclusive franchise tag designation.
"After the 2018 season is completed, we again will attempt to work out a long-term contract with Le'Veon in the hope that he will continue his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers."
Last year, Bell signed right before the first game of the season and got off to a slow start. But he finished the year as an All-Pro, rushing 321 times for 1,291 yards and had 85 catches for 655 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Bell has 7,996 total yards through 62 career regular-season games, the most of any NFL player during that span since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, outdistancing Eric Dickerson (7,842), according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Bell could be tagged a third time but it's unlikely because the cost would be $20.88 million and a transition tag would by more than $17 million.
In early January, Bell threatened to retire but later moved off that stance. He doesn't have to report to the Steelers until November in order to get credit for a full season, but he would receive only a percentage of the $14.5 million.
According to Spotrac website, which tracks NFL teams' salary stats, only two team right now could comfortably fit Bell's demand of a contract worth $15 million: the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts.