The Steelers have the option of doing so.
The Steelers slapped a franchise tag on Bell for a second straight season, a deal which would pay him $14.54 million in 2018.
In 2017 under ex-coordinator Todd Haley, the Steelers' offense got a little stale at times in terms of the volume and versatility of personnel used.
No doubt he's a top five RB in the league and believes he deserves to be paid as such, but he has to weigh his options: he can go get paid by the Jets or some other team that is going to make him be the workhorse who the team's success depends on, or he can take less and play for a playoff team and possible Super Bowl contender.
"We know he's one of the best in the business and he helps each week", Roethlisberger said.
Bell may not have expected to be called out by his peers, however, who should understand that all players have an extremely limited window to make as much money as possible.
Center Maurkice Pouncey is particularly upset that Bell is playing games and not making it clear when he will join the team.
Agent Adisa Bakari, who represents Bell, told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday that his client will "get there when he's there" and still intends to make this the best statistical season of his career. "Whether it's someone's first or past year, none of that should matter. Any time you have a guy like that, you want him on the field with you", said Roethlisberger. Samuels deserves a decent amount of work as a third-down back, and former Patriots 1,000-yard rusher Stevan Ridley will give Conner a handful of power relief.
"Le'Veon has several years ahead of him in football", Bakari told NFL Live.
"When he gets here, that's when we'll start quantifying all Le'Veon Bell things, his overall readiness, the amount of time we have between his arrival and our next competition, etc. etc.", Tomlin said Wednesday. But if Bell signs his current tag at any time prior to November 13, the Steelers would have to either tag him a third time at a hefty price tag next offseason or let him hit free agency.
That's their way of saying, "You're it".
But the frustration has now leaked into the locker room to the point where players now appear to be on management's side - or at least they're not respecting the way Bell is going about his holdout, seemingly leaving many of them in the dark on his plans.