Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert announced Wednesday that the team does not intend to use its franchise or transition tag on running back Le'Veon Bell, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.
"Le'Veon is still a great player," Colbert said. "We can't afford to use any other type of tags. Le'Veon will be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year."
Bell shared his feelings about the franchise tag process Tuesday.
The Steelers placed their franchise tag on Bell for the second consecutive year last offseason after failing to agree on a long-term deal. In response, Bell sat out the entire 2018 season, forcing the team to turn to James Conner as its primary running back.
Pittsburgh could have tagged Bell for a third straight year, but it would have cost the team upwards of $25 million, according to NFL.com's Tom Pelissero. The Steelers could have also used the transition tag on Bell, which would have afforded them an opportunity to match any offer the star rusher receives on the open market.
As of March 13, the first day of the new league year, Bell will hit free agency for the first time in his career. He last played in the NFL on Jan. 14, 2018, the Steelers' divisional round loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.