The biggest free agent running back in football is getting tagged once more.

For the second straight year, the Pittsburgh Steelers are placing the franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell. The move locks Bell into a fully guaranteed $11.866 million contract for 2018. But it all but assures a long and protracted process regarding a long-term deal which ultimately could entail him holding out.

Pittsburgh Steelers Place Franchise Tag on Le’Veon Bell

Bell was easily the best free agent at the position, and probably the second most sought-after free agent behind only quarterback Kirk Cousins. The running back position, which had been devalued with the rise in passing in recent years, has recently started to be viewed with more importance. Because of Bell’s work, along with fellow running backs Devonta Freeman, LeSean McCoy, Ezekiel Elliott, and Leonard Fournette, running backs are valued higher.

Bell joined the Steelers as a second-round pick in 2013 and immediately became an impact player. The Michigan State product became a day one starter and brought an extra dimension to the Pittsburgh offense.

Bell’s trademark patience behind the line and ability to wait for holes to open up have made him an absolute nightmare to tackle. While his work in the running game is impressive, Bell is also a nightmare in the passing game. He’s one of the few running backs in the league capable of dominating on the ground and through the air.

To say Bell’s career has been successful so far would be an understatement. Bell’s a two-time All-Pro and has broken 1,250 yards from scrimmage in four of his five seasons.

If there’s one knack against Bell, it’s his lack of availability. Suspensions and injuries have been an all too common part of Bell’s career. Bell missed a combined four games between 2015 and 2016 due to drug-related suspensions. Additionally, Bell has missed a combined 12 games due to injuries.

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