The Pittsburgh Steelers and running back Le’Veon Bell will reportedly attempt to come to terms on a long-term contract Monday despite the fact "it will be challenging."
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported as much, noting head coach Mike Tomlin is still confident Pittsburgh can reach an agreement with the talented running back before Monday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline for players who were franchise-tagged to sign new deals.
"Obviously, we want to get a deal done, he wants to get a deal done. Everybody has said that," Tomlin said, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. "Now it's just about the negotiators getting into a room and doing what it is they need to do. I'm excited and hopeful. Hopefully we'll have some exciting news before Monday."
Fowler cautioned the head coach was also optimistic prior to last year's deadline, when Bell ultimately didn't sign a long-term deal and missed training camp before signing a $12.12 million franchise tag on Sept. 4.
According to Fowler, Bell said he won't sign a contract extension that offers less than the $14.5 million value of this year's tag annually. If he doesn't sign a deal, he plans on playing on this year's tag.
It makes sense Bell is looking for a significant contract offer considering he does much more than the average NFL running back. In addition to his 1,291 rushing yards last season, the Michigan State product finished second on the Steelers with 85 catches and third with 655 receiving yards.
He also tallied 11 total touchdowns on his way to his third Pro Bowl and second First Team All-Pro recognition.
Bell is just 26 years old and one of the pillars of Pittsburgh's offense alongside 36-year-old Ben Roethlisberger and 30-year-old Antonio Brown. He is vital to the team's Super Bowl chances and figures to be the centerpiece of the offense in the coming years.
That is, if the team can keep him long-term.