Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell has recovered from offseason core muscle surgery, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reports.
If no deal is reached, the Steelers will have the option to use the franchise tag on Bell again in 2018.
The $12.1 million Bell is scheduled to earn in 2017 is roughly $4 million more than what LeSean McCoy earns in a year. But given the shelf life of running backs and the potentially exorbitant cap hold Bell could have if franchised again, a long-term deal remains the likeliest option.
Bell, 25, is coming off a 2016 campaign that saw him put up an absurd 1,884 total yards in just 12 games.
It's the second consecutive season Cousins will play on the franchise tag after he failed to agree on a long-term deal with the team by Monday's 4 p.m. deadline.
For the Steelers' part, they seem to think that Bell will be ready to go once camp starts. And while he's expected to do so, he's under no obligation to attend training camp in the mean time.
Both sides remained quiet about the negotiations. "We will resume our efforts to address his contract situation following the 2017 season".
Bell especially shined in Week 14, when he set the franchise regular-season rushing record in a single game with 236 yards.
NFL Network ranked Bell the No. 9 overall player in its 2017 rankings. The Steelers reserved that space for potential contract extensions with Bell, defensive end Stephon Tuitt and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva.