Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers came close to a deal before everything fell apart once and for all.
Pittsburgh made a pitch to the disgruntled running back through his agent prior to Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline to sign his franchise tag, but neither side could finalize an agreement, CBS Sports reported, citing league sources.
The report noted the Steelers also informed Bell of their intent to place the transition tag on him in 2019.
According to ESPN, which cited league sources, the Steelers were told Bell would consider reporting and playing this season if they would not use their franchise or transition tag on him next year, though the request was denied.
The Steelers confirmed Bell’s absence this week, which ruled him ineligible to play the remainder of the season, as general manager Kevin Colbert released a statement on the matter Tuesday.
By not signing the $14.5 million tender, his second in two years, Bell will not accrue an NFL season and is expected to end his tenure with the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2013 draft. He’s set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
The Steelers (6-2-1) will look to keep their focus and go for six straight wins when they visit the Jaguars (3-6) in a rematch of last season’s AFC divisional round game at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.