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Steelers won’t tag Le’Veon Bell, which means he’ll become a free agent

PITTSBURGH — Disgruntled running back Le’Veon Bell has gotten his wish. The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Wednesday they will not place a franchise ...
Divisional Round – Jacksonville Jaguars v Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH — Disgruntled running back Le’Veon Bell has gotten his wish.

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Wednesday they will not place a franchise or transition tag on the All-Pro running back, according to an ESPN report.

The team’s decision means Bell, who held out the entire 2018 season, will become an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year, according to Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert.

“Le’Veon is still a great player,” Colbert told reporters. “We can’t afford to use any other type of tags.”

Once Bell signs with a new team, the Steelers will receive a compensatory draft pick in 2020, according to ESPN. That pick could be as much as a high third-round selection.

Placing the transition tag on Bell would have cost the Steelers $14.5 million against the salary cap. The team will turn to Pro-Bowl running back James Conner, who was productive as Bell’s replacement last year, along with Jaylen Samuels.

Bell, 27, did not sign his franchise tender last season, forgoing $14.5 million and sitting out in hopes of hitting the free-agent market.

He got his wish.

Meanwhile, Colbert also said the Steelers will not offer a discount in a trade to get rid of disgruntled wide receiver Antonio Brown, ESPN reports.

Colbert did not rule out keeping Brown if the team did not find good value for him on the trade market, saying no relationship is irreparable.

“We’re all disappointed we’re at this point. How things transpired, we’re all disappointed,” Colbert said. “Respectfully, we did agree [that looking] into a trade would probably be the best course of action for both sides. …. By no means are we going to make a trade or any type of move that will not be beneficial to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. We will not be discounting you on the trade market and we will not release you.”

Colbert said Pittsburgh has not yet had any trade discussions with other teams.