Steelers RB Bell wants no part of second franchise tag

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell isn't interested in being hit with the franchise tag for a second straight season.

In fact, the 25-year-old Bell hints that retirement is an option should the Steelers apply the tag again.

"I hope it doesn't come to that, but I would definitely consider it," Bell told ESPN before Thursday's practice in preparation for Sunday's AFC Divisional playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Bell is making $12.1 million this season and the franchise tag is expected to increase his salary to $14.5 million in 2018 if applied again.

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PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 18: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the ball against the Arizona Cardinals at Heinz Field on October 18, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Dec 10, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) hurdles Baltimore Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr (24) during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 39-38. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 25: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) is interviewed following the football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans on December 25, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 05: Le'Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers (L) and actor Jeff Goldblum visit the SiriusXM set at Super Bowl 50 Radio Row at the Moscone Center on February 5, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Oct 8, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) rushes the ball against Jacksonville Jaguars strong safety Barry Church (42) during the third quarter at Heinz Field. Jacksonville won 30-9. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 1: Running back Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the football during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on November 1, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Bengals defeated the Steelers 16-10. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 18: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers avoids a tackle by Calais Campbell #93 of the Arizona Cardinals at Heinz Field on October 18, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 31: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell attends the 2015 NFL Honors at Phoenix Convention Center on January 31, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 12: Running back Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates with running back Roosevelt Nix #45 of the Pittsburgh Steelers after Bell scored the game-winning touchdown against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 21: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is introduced before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 21, 2014 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 25: Houston Texans safety Eddie Pleasant (35) brings down Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) during the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans on December 25, 2017 at NRG Stadium at Houston, Texas. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Bell said the Steelers must show that they value him in this offseason's contract negotiations. He said he would have no trouble sitting out the 2018 campaign.

"Just get the numbers straight, exactly where we want them," Bell said. "I'm not going to settle for anything. I know what I do and what I bring to the table. I'm not going out here getting the ball 400 times if I'm not getting what I feel I'm valued at."

Bell rushed for 1,291 yards on 321 carries this season and also caught 85 passes for 655 yards. He scored 11 touchdowns -- nine rushing, two receiving.

Bell has topped 1,200 rushing yards in three of his first five NFL campaigns.

Bell said a return to the NFL is unlikely if he sits out the 2018 season.

"It will eventually come down to me playing on the tag or not," Bell said. "They tag me again, it will be me (saying), 'OK, do I want to play on the tag or do I not want to play on the tag?' That's what it comes down to.

"If I was a free agent and they let me go, be a free agent, then yeah, I'm going to go explore free agency, test the market."

NFL teams can place the franchise tag on a player between Feb. 20 and March 6. After that, they have until July 16 to work out a long-term contract.

-- Field Level Media

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