The Pittsburgh Steelers and Le'Veon Bell were unable to agree upon a long-term deal.
Bell will play under the exclusive franchise tag worth $12.12 million in 2017.
Next year, the Steelers can tag Bell again at around $14 million or re-sign him. As expected, Bell's negotiations with the Steelers pressed against the deadline of July 17 at 4 p.m. ET, a similar theme with star players such as Dez Bryant and Von Miller in recent years.
Bell had the leverage to surpass LeSean McCoy's five-year, $40 million deal with the Buffalo Bills.
Bell's 157 total yards per game last season ranks third all-time for a running back.
NFL Network ranked Bell the No. 9 overall player in its 2017 rankings.