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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, March 07, 2018 1:00 am


Steelers place tag on running back

Associated Press

Five NFL players have been given the franchise tag, with only Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell getting the exclusive tag.

Bell, who has been adamant about not playing under the tag for a second straight season, can't negotiate with any other teams. Pittsburgh must offer him the average of the top five running backs' salaries. Both sides plan to continue negotiating.

Also getting franchise tags were Miami wide receiver Jarvis Landry, Detroit defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, Dallas DE DeMarcus Lawrence, and Los Angeles Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner. They can talk with other teams, but their current team would get compensation if they leave.

The only player given the transition tag was Chicago cornerback Kyle Fuller.

Free agency begins on March 14.

Bell, a two-time All Pro, accounted for 1,946 total yards and 11 touchdowns for the AFC North champions in 2017. Bell is scheduled to make $14.54 million in 2018 if he signs the franchise tender and the two sides are unable to reach an agreement on a new deal.

The 26-year-old Fuller is considered a key player for Chicago's defense. The tag, announced Tuesday, guarantees Fuller $12.9 million next season.

Fuller can sign an offer sheet with another team, but the Bears get a chance to match it and they are expected to seek a multiyear deal. The team gets no compensation if they choose not to match.

Chicago hasn't used a transition tag since 2001, when it was used on defensive lineman Bryan Robinson.

Salary cap rises to $177.2 million

The salary cap will be $177.2 million, more than $10 million above last season. Teams must be below that figure when the league season begins on March 14.

While the cap went up from $167 million, it did not surge the way it did the previous year, increasing by nearly $12 million.

Under the current labor agreement reached in 2011, the cap steadily has gone up from $120 million that year to $120.6 million, then to $123 million, then to $133 million in 2014. It was $143.28 million in 2015.

Extra points

Miami owner Stephen Ross says he won't force his players to stand for the national anthem, even though he believes kneeling is an ineffective way to promote social justice. Ross' comments Tuesday in a statement released by the Dolphins came after the New York Daily News reported he said all of the team's players will stand for the anthem in 2018. ... Running back Chris Ivory agreed to sign a two-year contract with the Buffalo. ... Carolina reached an agreement on a four-year contract extension with Pro Bowl kicker Graham Gano. ... Referees Ed Hochuli and Jeff Triplette are retiring. One of the replacements will be former back judge Shawn Hochuli, Ed's son. The other is former side judge Alex Kemp.