"I hope it doesn't come to that, but I would definitely consider it", Bell said Thursday.
"I don't think we got enough attempts", Bell said after the 21-point loss, adding, "I feel we're a good enough team to wear guys out whether they know we're running the ball or not". "I know what I do and what I bring to the table".
Bell's threat to retire is probably a bluff, but that doesn't mean he has no right to be exasperated at playing another season under the franchise tag (which pays a player no less than the average of the top five salaries at his position).
Bell was a workhouse for Pittsburgh this season, rushing for 1,291 yards on 321 carries, while also catching 85 passes.
Pittsburgh can tag Bell again next season at a projected cost of more than $14 million.
He has 7,996 yards from scrimmage since entering the National Football League in 2013.
One of those picks could be used to select Bell's replacement, as the Steelers don't have a lot now on the roster at running back beyond James Conner, who ended his rookie season on IR with an MCL injury. "They tag me again, it will be me [saying], 'OK, do I want to play on the tag or do I not want to play on the tag?' That's what it comes down to".
As one veteran Steeler told me, when a player says something silly, his teammates just make fun of him behind the scenes. This could be Bell's only chance to hit the open market in his prime and land a lucrative contract.
And I cringed because Bell should have known better than to answer that question, even if it might have been conversational and even if he might not have thought it was a big deal. GM Kevin Colbert would then have to weigh what's best; for an aging roster and a Super Bowl window that might be closing, he could decide it behooves the team to get the 2018 selection. If I am playing this game, I want to set standards for all the other running backs behind me, like Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott, Melvin Gordon, guys like that. I feel I can do that. Perhaps it was his way of trying to show how committed he is to wanting to stay in Pittsburgh for the long-haul and win it all this year.