Report: Steelers could trade Bell after using transition tag

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly considering placing the transition tag on Le'Veon Bell, and that move wouldn't come out of a desire to keep the running back long term.

The Steelers prefer to use the cheaper tag on Bell and then shop him around to find a trade partner, sources told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac. Head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert don't want Bell's contract dispute to disrupt another season.

"Ideally, the Steelers would find a team interested in Bell, place the transition tag on him, sign him and trade him to that interested team the same day," writes Dulac. "That way, they are guaranteed compensation for the former All-Pro running back, whether in the form of a player or a draft choice."

The transition tag gives teams the chance to match any offer a player receives on the open market. If the team doesn't match the offer, it doesn't receive draft-pick compensation. Tagging Bell could cost anywhere from $9.5 million to $14.5 million, with recent franchise tags complicating his case.

Bell sat out the entire 2018 season after being slapped with the franchise tag for a second straight year, forfeiting his $14.5-million salary. The Steelers could argue the running back didn't play under the tag, and therefore shouldn't require the more expensive version of the transition tag.

The 26-year-old would need to sign the transition tag for Pittsburgh to trade him, but Dulac notes that might be unlikely because of the strained relationship between Bell and his team.

The NFL prohibits teams from using any tag without the intention to sign the player to a long-term deal, which further complicates the Steelers' plan.

"A club extending a required tender must, for so long as that tender is extended, have a good faith intention to employ the player receiving the tender at the tender compensation level during the upcoming season," article four, section eight, subsection (b) of the collective bargaining agreement states, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

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Report: Steelers could trade Bell after using transition tag
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