As expected, Steelers place franchise tag on Le'Veon Bell

20151001pdSteelersSports09-1 Peter Diana  Post Gazette Former Steelers kicker Josh Scobee right reacts after missing his second field goal of the evening against the Ravens in October 2015

The tag gives the Steelers time to work out a long-term deal with Bell, who could have become a free agent next month.

But he left the team's AFC Championship loss at New England in the first quarter with a groin injury that general manager Kevin Colbert said two weeks ago has been diagnosed as a sports hernia.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have placed their franchise tag on star running back Le'Veon Bell, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. That's considerably less than the 7.257-percent rate that applies under the franchise tag for running backs. The team and Bell now have until July 15 to hammer out a multi-year solution.

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After an extensive search, their bodies were found at around 12:15 p.m. the next day about one-half mile upstream from the bridge. It showed a man in a blue jacket, hoodie and blue jeans who was hiking on the trail around the time of the girls' disappearance.

Bell was a second-round pick of the Steelers in 2013 and has rushed for 4,045 yards and 26 touchdowns despite missing 14 games because of injuries and suspensions. His contract rights belong to the Steelers for next season. Negotiations on a long-term deal are expected to continue and terms could be agreed upon before the start of the 2017 season.

Bell rushed for 1,268 yards (4.9-yard average) and caught 75 passes for another 616 yards last season, becoming the first player in National Football League history to average 100 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards per game. The 31-year-old Peterson is scheduled to count $18 million against the Vikings' salary cap if he's still on the team's roster at the end of next week. In his four-year career, he's only managed to play a full, 16-game season once. If both sides fail to agree to a new contract by that date, then Bell will play under the franchise tag for the 2017 season.

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