Steelers' Le'Veon Bell: My value extends past ground game

Bell to get franchise tag from Steelers (1:15)

Jeremy Fowler says Le'Veon Bell feels his team values him differently after a deal did not get signed with the Steelers. (1:15)

PITTSBURGH -- Le'Veon Bell wants to reset the running back market, without the running back label.

Bell believes his worth comes from receiving and rushing, which helps explain why he's playing under the Pittsburgh Steelers' $12.12 million franchise tag in 2017 instead of a long-term deal.

"I feel I should be valued as a player, not so much my position," Bell told ESPN in an interview Monday, shortly after the 4 p.m. ET franchise-tag deadline passed.

"Hopefully down the line I can get valued at, not as much a guy who gets the ball 30 carries and that's it," he said.

Bell expounded on that belief, which echoes what former Steeler Ike Taylor said this week on NFL Network after also speaking with Bell -- he's the Steelers' No. 2 receiver behind Antonio Brown, along with his status as a premier running back.

In 2016, Bell was second on the team in catches (75) and receiving yards (616) despite sitting four games (three due to suspension and one for rest) and mostly running the ball late in the season.

Anyone who has seen Bell's receiving up close knows he could be an elite slot receiver full time. He makes contested catches, has soft hands and contorts his body with the best of them. But he plays a position whose highest-paid player on a long-term deal is Buffalo's LeSean McCoy at $8 million per year.

"I make plays in the passing game, blocking, doing everything," Bell said. "I'm arguably the top running back in the NFL and the No. 2 receiver on the Steelers, even though I play running back. Their career receiving total vs. mine, they don't have more yards than me."

Bell's 2,005 receiving yards in four seasons rank second on the team during that span.

That's why Taylor said he thought $15 million per year would have gotten a deal done -- the $12.1 million tag, plus $3 million more for receiving skills.

To be sure, it's highly unlikely any running back will get that $15 million, which is considered top dollar for high-end receivers. Despite his elite pass-catching skills, he's still a running back first.

But Bell made clear he's prepared to be patient to get the right contract in 2018.

Bell played out the duration of his four-year, $4.12 million rookie deal, though he lost a small fraction of that total because of suspensions. Bell used some of that money to purchase a home for his mother, Lisa, near Columbus, Ohio.

Passing on a long-term offer from the Steelers wasn't easy.

"More money than you've ever seen in your life, it's hard to walk away from it," Bell said. "At the same time, I've never had that amount of money for 25 years."

Though Bell hasn't committed to reporting to training camp on time -- he hasn't signed the franchise tender yet, which means he can report when he wants -- he plans to play a full 16-game season.

If Bell has his way, he will have increased his worth by then.

"I understand from [the Steelers'] side it's not personal against me; it's all business," Bell said. "It's not personal with them, either. I'm trying to do what's best for me and my family.

"I like the position I'm at right now. I'm going to play football."