The Steelers have spoken to Bell’s reps at the NFL combine here to “try to figure out common ground” for a long-term deal, general manager Kevin Colbert told reporters Wednesday.
Colbert said he hopes a deal is reached by March 6, the last day for designating a franchise player. Bell’s franchise number is around $14.5 million for 2018.
In 2017, the Steelers placed an exclusive tag on Bell on Feb. 26. There was less optimism over an extension then, and he ended up playing for one year at $12.1 million.
Colbert and team president Art Rooney have publicly stated they want the star running back to retire a Steeler, and Bell has too.
Bell’s per-game average of 129 yards from scrimmage since 2013 is the most by an NFL player in the first five years of a career since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.
“I don’t like to get into too much detail,” Colbert said about the deal. “I can say that I am optimistic that we can find common ground. Those things are never final until they are final. Until we reach an agreement we don’t have anything right now.”