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Without deal, Le'Veon Bell and Steelers prepare for 16-game standoff

PITTSBURGH -- Now the fun begins.

One of the most prolific players in the NFL will play on a one-year contract for a Super Bowl contender after the franchise tag deadline came and passed Monday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had hoped that wouldn't be Le'Veon Bell's reality. For months, they've wanted to sign him to a long-term deal. But Bell was toting the $12.1-million rock, thanks to this year's franchise tag. He wasn't going to undermine his own leverage. So now he's betting on himself with a one-year audition, just like his old Michigan State teammate Kirk Cousins.