If the Jets decide to pursue Le’Veon Bell to upgrade their running back corps in free agency next month, there will be nothing contractual to stand in their way.
Kevin Colbert, the Steelers’ general manager, told reporters on Wednesday that his team does not intend to use its “transition” tag on Bell, meaning he will be completely free to go where he wishes.
“Le’Veon is still a great player, but we can’t afford to use any type of tag with the other needs that we have,” Colbert said.
The Steelers could have used the transition tag to try to wring some trade value out of Bell, but instead they did the expected and will let him go free and clear.
Bell, 27, refused last season to sign a $14.5-million franchise tag and sat out the entire season.
The Jets are flush with salary cap space and in need of dynamic offensive players, so Bell is a logical target. He has rushed for more than 1,200 yards in three of the past four seasons in which he has participated.
Bell’s former teammate, receiver Antonio Brown, met with Steelers president Art Rooney II on Tuesday and tweeted that both sides agreed it was “time to move on.”
The Jets would be a potential landing place for Brown, too.
Colbert said in no scenario would the Steelers release Brown. They will seek as much as they can get for him on the trade market.