The Pittsburgh Steelers can no longer mask their feelings about All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell. Monday (March 5), stories circulated intimating that Bell and the Steelers won't agree on a contract extension before Tuesday's franchise tag deadline (March 6). So, for the second straight season, the team is likely to offer the star back an expensive one-year deal. According to NFL Network, the deal is worth $14.5 million, up two million from his tag last season.

Bell has made three Pro Bowl teams and has two All-Pro selections in just five NFL seasons.

The organization's reluctance to retain him is puzzling to those who watch the game weekly, but it underscores the ongoing rift between both parties. A rift that will undoubtedly prove detrimental to the team's immediate and distant future if not solved soon.

Steelers and Bell relationship history

Off the field, Bell has had issues that have plagued both him and the team. The NFL suspended him multiple games for abusing the league's substance abuse policy in 2015 and 2016. As a result, the Steelers fined him for missing games.

Bell has also had to deal with absences due to injury.

He only played six games in 2015 and was placed on injured-reserve. The past two seasons, the two sides have flirted with contract talks and have been vocal about it. The Steelers ultimately decided Bell wasn't worth top-dollar and offered a franchise tag last offseason. Bell was openly outraged and didn't join the team all offseason.

Fast forward to 2018, and things look eerily familiar in the Steelers-Bell relationship. More flirting, (Steelers general manager Kelvin Colbert says the team wants to sign Bell to a long-term deal) but another tag is the result. From the looks of Bell's social accounts, he'll double down on his combative attitude from a year ago and continue to send shoutouts to the Steelers front office.

Why Bell is worth the big bucks

On the field, there's no denying Bell's talent. He's a huge part of the Steelers' offensive game plan every week and has had over 1,200 yards rushing in three of the last four seasons. The team used him more than ever last year as he toted the ball a career-high 321 times and racked up 106 targets in the passing game. He was the only running back to finish with 300-plus rushing attempts and 100-plus targets.

Currently, the Atlanta Falcons' Devonta Freeman is the league's highest-paid back after agreeing to a five-year, $41.25 million extension last summer with $22 million guaranteed. Over the last four seasons, Freeman has just over 4,800 Yards From Scrimmage and has yet to rush for 1,200 yards in a season.

Bell reportedly wants to be paid as the best running back and wants over $30 million guaranteed. The numbers support his claim as he's logged nearly 8,000 yards from scrimmage in the past five seasons. The 26-year-old already owns the franchise record for most rushing yards (236) in a game and has just eight career fumbles.

The Steelers and Bell don't look to be reconciling anytime soon. But the organization has an aging quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, so the window to win another Super Bowl title is rapidly closing. Bell's teammates have come out and supported him in recent years. It wouldn't be an overstatement to conclude that if Colbert and the Steelers decisionmakers don't lock up the most valuable back in the league, a detrimental divorce is on the horizon.