Antonio Brown got his money and is probably considered the premier performer at his NFL position, but the Steelers made it clear who the centerpiece of their franchise is as Pittsburgh has placed the exclusive franchise tag on running back Le’Veon Bell, the team announced Monday.
They weren’t going to let such an all-world talent sniff free agency — yet.
Players given the exclusive franchise tag cannot negotiate with outside teams.
The Steelers became the third team to utilize the franchise tag this offseason. Earlier on Monday, the Arizona Cardinals placed the designation on outside linebacker Chandler Jones, and the Carolina Panthers did the same with defensive tackle Kawann Short. The New York Giants later used the tag on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
Teams have a deadline of 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday to use the franchise tag.
Bell is a 25-year-old multi-faceted threat who was limited to 12 games this season but still managed 1,268 rushing yards and 616 receiving yards.
Hes a two-time Pro Bowl selection who became became the first player in NFL history to average more than 100 rushing yards per game and more than 50 receiving yards per game in one season.
The Steelers have an abundance of riches on the offensive side of the ball and they have their top players locked in for 2017.