11:13 AM ET

The Steelers and Le’Veon Bell both made closing pushes leading up to Tuesday’s deadline to iron out a deal that would have brought him back to Pittsburgh this season, but neither side could finalize an agreement, league sources told ESPN.

The Steelers were told that if they were willing to not use their franchise or transition tag on Bell after this season, he would consider reporting to the team, according to sources. But the Steelers declined Bell’s request because they felt the tag was too important to forgo.

Getting paid this year was never Bell’s priority. He still could get what he wants in the long term while turning the NFL’s economic model on its head.

The Steelers packed up Le’Veon Bell’s locker one day after he didn’t show up and players raided it.

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This sets up a brewing battle between the NFL’s management council and the NFL Players Association in a potentially precedent-setting case over Bell’s future, a case that likely will be decided by an arbitrator, according to league sources.

The management council believes the Steelers will be able to use a $9.5 million transition tag on Bell

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