Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell threatened to skip training camp if the team places a franchise tag on him for the second consecutive year.
“If they tag me, ain’t no training camp,” Bell said during an appearance on “The Doug Gottlieb Show” Friday. “See you in Week 1, maybe.”
On Thursday, the 25-year-old back told TMZ Sports that he would consider retirement if the Steelers franchise tagged him again this offseason.
Bell, 25, made $12.1 million last season under the franchise tag in 2017, but is still seeking a long-term deal entering his sixth NFL season.
“I need some long term security,” Bell said. “That’s the biggest thing about contracts. You wanna get a long term deal with a nice guaranteed money so if somethings does happen.”
Bell recorded 1,944 all-purpose yards in 2017 and has been an elite NFL back since entering the league in 2013. The former Michigan State standout is a two-time All-Pro, three-time Pro Bowler and was the Steelers’ MVP in 2014 and 2016.
However, the team may be hesitant to invest long-term in a player who has battled injuries and faced numerous suspensions during his first five seasons as he enters his late 20’s.
“The Steelers know what type of person I am,” said Bell, who added that his injuries were “freaky” occurrences. “Yeah, the suspensions happened, and the second suspension, they know exactly what happened. There’s a lot of things that shouldn’t have happened, and the Steelers understand that.”
Still, it would be hard for Pittsburgh to match Bell’s production.
“I’m the No.1 player in scrimmage yards in their first five years…ever,” he said.
The Steelers have until March 14 — the official beginning of free agency — to sign Bell to a new contract.
However, he told reporters during the Pro Bowl that he’s given the team an ultimatum to have something prepared by February 20.
Fittingly, that’s the same day NFL teams can place franchise tags on players, which is why Bell wants reassurance that he won’t fall into that category once again.