NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that the Steelers and Bell couldn't get a deal done despite intense negotiations up to the deadline. If it doesn't happen, Bell will play the 2017 season on a one-year deal for the average salary of the league's top five running backs - probably somewhere around $12 million.
Bell could become an unrestricted free agent next spring or the Steelers could place the franchise tag on him a second time.
The $12.1 million Bell is scheduled to earn in 2017 is roughly $4 million more than what LeSean McCoy earns in a year.
As of Monday's extension deadline, Bell had also not signed his franchise tender. Without any remaining leverage, it now looks like Bell might hold out from Steelers training camp until mid-to-late August.
Both sides have valid points in this conflict.
"Unfortunately, we were unable to agree to terms on a long-term contract with Le'Veon Bell prior to today's deadline", General manager Kevin Colbert in a statement, via the team's official website.
That would give them until mid-summer 2018 to work on a long-term deal again.
According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, Bell is recovered from offseason core muscle surgery, and should be ready to participate from the start of camp. The two-time All-Pro will play this upcoming season under the franchise tag. Bell set the Steelers' regular-season rushing record for a single game with 236 yards on 38 carries in Buffalo in Week 14. He rushed for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns last season, adding 75 receptions for 616 yards.