To play under franchise tag this season

As today's deadline approaches, the Steelers' contract negotiations with Le'Veon Bell are down to the wire

The franchise tag deadline came and went Monday without a long-term deal for Bell, who will play on a $12.12 million exclusive franchise tag in 2017.

Both sides have valid points in this conflict. Bell is set to make more money than any running back in the league this year as he plays on the franchise tag. But given the shelf life of running backs and the potentially exorbitant cap hold Bell could have if franchised again, a long-term deal remains the likeliest option. In fact, it's entirely possible Bell could stay away from the team until mid-to-late August. Next year, he'll head towards an equally lucrative contract, but it may not be with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has not yet signed his one-year tender after the Steelers placed the franchise tag on him in March, so he would not be subject to fines, according to NBC Sports ProFootballTalk.

Bell, 25, ran for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns and caught another 75 passes in 12 games for Pittsburgh in 2016.

"Unfortunately, we were unable to agree to terms on a long-term contract with Le'Veon Bell prior to today's deadline", said General Manager Kevin Colbert in a statement. In last season's AFC title game against New England, Bell re-aggravated a groin injury that kept him off the field for most of the 36-17 loss. Villanueva's situation is very different than Tuitt's when it comes to leverage, however, because the Steelers can easily retain the former undrafted free agent after the 2017 season is over with a second-round restricted tender.

If Bell falters in 2017, the Steelers spent a year getting leverage and the services of one of the most unsafe offensive weapons in the sport they both play. The Steelers begin camp July 27 in Latrobe.

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