Le'Veon Bell's situation with the Pittsburgh Steelers has been the biggest saga of the NFL this summer.
The running back was put under the franchise tag back in March, allowing his team to try and negotiate a long-term deal.
MISSING THE DEADLINE
However, the deadline to reach any deal passed on Monday at 4 pm - and no contract was agreed, which means the Steelers are in a tough spot.
Bell was asking for far more money than Pittsburgh were willing to pay him - or realistically, could have afforded to pay him.
Therefore, the 26-year-old will only be making around $14.5 million next season playing under the tag - and it looks likely to be his last year with the team.
GOING OUT ON A HIGH?
"His intention was to retire as a Steeler," Bell's agent, Adisa Bakari told ESPN.
"But now that there's no deal, the practical reality is this now likely will be Le'Veon's last season as a Steeler."
With his representative all but confirming an exit, the running back himself also took to Twitter to share a positive message with his fans.
Now, that sounds like fighting talk - perhaps Bell will be going out to give everything he has for one final year in Pittsburgh.
That's an ideal outcome - but the reality may be quite different, with ESPN's Adam Schefter explaining that Bell could choose to sit out part of the regular season.
WHY HE COULD CHOOSE TO SKIP THE START OF THE REGULAR SEASON
"Short-term, I think there’s no question we will not see Le’Veon Bell all summer long," Schefter explained on SiriusXM Radio, per USA Today.
"Last summer, he didn’t show up until a week before the opener, and it could be a similar timeline this year – but it also could not be.
"I think there’s more at stake in this particular year, where basically he could wind up sitting out into the season."
Why? Because Bell may be protecting his body from injury, in order to enter the 2019 free agency healthy.
"Even though he’d be losing $854,000 a week, I think the ultimate goal here is his long-term preservation," Schefter continued.
"Not putting wear-and-tear on his body and making sure that he gets to the 2019 free agent market as healthy as possible."
Although Bell promised that 2018 will be his best year yet, he failed to mention that it may only begin when he chooses.
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