Steelers GM says team will not use tag on Le'Veon Bell

Steelers couldn't afford to tag Le'Veon (0:52)

Jeremy Fowler details why the Steelers decided not to use the transition tag on Le'Veon Bell, who will be an unrestricted free agent. (0:52)

PITTSBURGH -- Le'Veon Bell will be a free agent.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will not place a franchise or transition tag on the All-Pro running back, general manager Kevin Colbert told local reporters on Wednesday.

"Le'Veon is still a great player," Colbert said. "We can't afford to use any other type of tags. Le'Veon will be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year."

Bell took to Twitter later Wednesday to rejoice at the news.

For losing Bell, the team will receive a 2020 compensatory pick that could be worth as high as a third-round selection. Colbert said the transition tag wasn't viable because of the number ($14.5 million) and the fact that Pro Bowl running back James Conner and rookie Jaylen Samuels were productive without Bell last season.

Bell, who turned 27 on Monday, declined to sign his franchise tender last year, leaving $14.5 million on the table and sitting out the entire season.

Leading up to Colbert's announcement, the value of a transition tag for Bell and how the Steelers might apply it were up for debate. Though Colbert said Bell's tag would have been $14.5 million, which was the NFLPA's number, the Steelers and the NFL considered arguing the number should be closer to $9.5 million because Bell sat out, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. That point is now moot.

If the Steelers tried to execute a sign-and-trade off the transition tag -- matching another team's offer sheet and then dealing him -- the NFLPA would likely argue the team was breaking the spirit of the tag and the CBA, according to a source.

Colbert also said the Steelers will not offer a discount in a trade to get rid of disgruntled wide receiver Antonio Brown. The GM said no relationship is irreparable, so if the team can't find good value for him, keeping Brown might be an option.

"We're all disappointed we're at this point. How things transpired, we're all disappointed," Colbert said. "Respectfully, we did agree [that looking] into a trade would probably be the best course of action for both sides. .... By no means are we going to make a trade or any type of move that will not be beneficial to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. We will not be discounting you on the trade market and we will not release you."

He added that the Steelers have not had any active trade talks about Brown with other teams to this point. Colbert said that Brown's agent Drew Rosenhaus will be involved but "we will control this."

Team president Art Rooney II spent 20-to-30 minutes with Brown in South Florida on Tuesday to discuss Brown's situation, Colbert said.

As for what went wrong with Brown, Colbert deferred to Rooney's discussion but pointed out on two different occasions that Brown is a "highly emotional" player, which is good "98 percent" of the time.

"We know we have a significant player. We know it's probably best to move on," Colbert said. "But we'll also know we'll only do that if it benefits us."

Information from ESPN's Adam Schefter was used in this report.