Sources: Steelers thought they’d reach long-term deal with Le’Veon Bell by deadline

5:54 PM ET

LATROBE, Pa. — The Pittsburgh Steelers believed they were close to securing a long-term contract with Le’Veon Bell as July’s franchise-tag deadline ran down, but the star running back declined the team’s offer, sources told ESPN.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Friday that Bell nixed an offer “at the last minute,” even though team officials thought they had come to terms with his agent on a contract paying more than $12 million annually over five years.

The Post-Gazette had earlier tweeted, “Exclusive: The Steelers and Le’Veon Bell’s agent had agreed on a five-year deal. Then, Bell turned it down.”

Bell’s agent, Adisa Bakari, said he and his client never had any agreement with Steelers. “All stories to contrary are false,” Bakari told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.