The Steelers will not be placing the transition tag on Le'Veon Bell -- making him an unrestricted free agent -- GM Kevin Colbert told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.
If the Steelers placed the transition tag on Bell, it would have given them the opportunity to match any offer sheet Bell signs with another team.
Bell reacted to the news Wednesday afternoon with a tweet:
Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I am free at last 🙌🙌🙌- Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) February 20, 2019
Now, armed with roughly $100 million in cap space, the Jets could make Bell one of their top targets. But they could be facing an uphill climb if they do.
SNY's Ralph Vacchiano reported on Dec. 21 that Bell "has his eyes on" the Indianapolis Colts, according to a source familiar with Bell's plans. The source, who has spoken to Bell, said the free agent hadn't ruled out signing with the Jets or any other team, but the Colt seem to be at the "top of his list."
"He has his eyes on the Colts, no doubt about that," the source said. "He sees Luck and that offense and all that cap room and they're much closer than the Jets. He wants to go someplace he can win right away."
While the Steelers decide what to do with Bell and the Jets decide whether to make him a top target, Jets S Jamal Adams has been actively recruiting him -- while also calling for the team to trade for disgruntled Steelers WR Antonio Brown.
Earlier this offseason, on the same day he made a renewed pitch for Brown, Adams told Brian Costello of the New York Post that he had lunch with Bell's agent at the Pro Bowl.
"I'll tell you this: We're hoping we can grab him," Adams told The Post on radio row at the Super Bowl on Wednesday.
Adams told The Post he has attempted to contact Bell to no avail.
"Man, he still hasn't hit me back. I'm kind of frustrated with him," Adams joked. "Nah, I'm not. I'm not frustrated with him at all."
Undeterred, Adams kept pitching the two stars in public.
"I want you guys to come be a part of something special,"Adams said Wednesday during an appearance on the NFL Network. "I think we have a lot of new energy, new coaching staff. The sky's the limit, we're just missing a few pieces. If you guys come join us, there will be nothing like bringing a Super Bowl back to the Jets organization."