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Franchise tag deadline passes with no long-term deals for Bell, Cousins

Geoff Burke / USA TODAY Sports

Le'Veon Bell, Kirk Cousins and Trumaine Johnson will all play under the stipulations of the franchise tag for the upcoming season after failing to reach long-term extensions with their clubs before Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline.

All three players are slated to become unrestricted free agents in 2018.

Bell, Cousins and Johnson will earn $12.1 million, $23.93 million, and $16.74 million respectively under the terms of their franchise tags for the upcoming season.

All three players now pose significant questions for their individual teams.

Bell will be the highest-paid running back in the NFL next year by a wide margin, but he's a genuine superstar who can make a strong case for a more lucrative deal.

Cousins faces the unfathomable proposition of being franchise tagged for the third consecutive year in 2018 and will likely be paid exorbitantly next year, barring a disaster.

Meanwhile, Johnson will be the NFL's highest-paid cornerback, although many would hesitate to rank him among the top 15 players at his position.

Bell earned Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors despite missing four games last season, rushing for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns while adding 75 receptions for 616 yards and two more scores for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Cousins completed 67 percent of his passes for 4,917 yards and 25 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. The 28-year-old was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time and the Washington Redskins elected to make him the first quarterback to receive the franchise tag in consecutive years this offseason.

Johnson recorded 57 tackles and an interception in 14 games with the Los Angeles Rams in 2016. The cornerback also received the franchise tag for the second consecutive year.

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