Early Tuesday, it was reported that Le’Veon Bell was on the trade market, which should have come as no surprise to anyone. His name had been on the market seemingly since he signed with the New York Jets. In fact, Pro Football Network Insider Tony Pauline said the two sides had a mutual interest in a trade back in January. After several days of trying to trade him in earnest, the Jets released him outright, and he will now be a free agent with the ability to sign with any team.
The primary reason why there was no trade for Bell was because of his contract. According to Over The Cap, Bell was counting over $15 million against the cap in 2020, and then was set to have a cap hit of just over $13 million in 2021 as well as exactly $15 million in 2022. Now, due to the release, the Jets will take on approximately $6 million of that in dead salary cap money.
Now that Bell is free to sign with any team, who might be in the mix for them? We can look at teams in the middle of a playoff push who could use a boost to their running game.
Could the Chicago Bears replace Tarik Cohen with Le’Veon Bell?
The Bears have lost Tarik Cohen for the season. His absence has been fatal to their running game, and he’s sorely missed in the passing game. Sure, David Montgomery isn’t a liability, but the offense has seen a noticeable dip without their spark plug. Adding Bell could provide the Bears’ offense with that much-needed spark.
Bell isn’t the explosive threat that Cohen is, but his patient style and cerebral style have always helped him get more than what’s given to him on the ground. That alone makes him a massive improvement on Montgomery, who is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry.
The same can be said of the passing game. Yes, Montgomery is a fine pass catcher, but he’s nowhere near Bell’s peak. It’s easy to forget, but Bell was once the most prolific receiving back in the NFL.
Do the New England Patriots make sense for Le’Veon Bell?
The Patriots are relying on their running game more than ever now. While Sony Michel was off to an excellent start to the season, he’s ended up on IR with a quad injury. Damien Harris was on the IR through the first three weeks before breaking out in Week 4, and James White missed two weeks of action due to personal issues, before returning with a strong Week 4 performance in the passing game. The problem the Patriots have is that they do have a true dual-threat running back outside of Rex Burkhead, who they have been seemingly hesitant to lean on consistently.
Le’Veon Bell fits into the Bill Belichick mold of running backs. Belichick loves RBs that are useful in the passing game, but his abilities as a runner mean that the Patriots’ hand is not tipped by which back is on the field. The Patriots’ offense is often designed to get the ball to running backs as they come out of the backfield on passing patterns, whether it’s White or Burkhead. Bell would be one of the best receiving back that Belichick has had, and he’d quickly become one of Cam Newton’s favorite targets.
In the running game, the Patriots offensive line has shown to be one of the best in football at times. On their day, they open up rushing lanes so wide a truck could run through them. Bell would have a field day running behind them and picking the perfect lane, just like he did in Pittsburgh.
Belichick checks out every talent that hits the market, especially mid-season. Don’t be surprised when the Bell to New England rumors start spreading, even if nothing comes of it in the end.
Could the Washington Football Team look to upgrade their running back situation?
The Washington Football Team is sitting at 1-4 with one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Despite their record, they’re in the thick of a tightly contested NFC East playoff race. The division is led by the Dallas Cowboys, who are just 2-3 and lost Dak Prescott for the season. Anyone can win that division.
Their running game, in particular, has been awful. Their leading rusher is rookie Antonio Gibson, who is averaging 42.6 rushing yards a game and 3.9 yards per carry. To say they need a boost on the ground would be an understatement. That’s where Le’Veon Bell comes in.
Bell would provide a jolt to the Washington backfield, while also proving to be the perfect mentor for Antonio Gibson. With Bell in the fold, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Washington offense get closer to below-average instead of the bottom of the league, and in the NFC East, that may be enough.
Considering Washington hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2015 and with all the negativity surrounding that franchise so far in 2020, it might just be realistic they look to act on bringing in Bell.
Could Le’Veon Bell give the Miami Dolphins run game a much-needed boost?
The Dolphins are another team currently under .500 that could push for a playoff spot. With seven teams set to make the playoffs in 2020, the Dolphins have a legitimate shot to claim a wild card spot. They’re only trailing the current seventh seed, the Oakland Raiders, by one game.
With the playoffs in reach, the Dolphins could be looking to upgrade their disastrous running game. Myles Gaskin leads the Dolphins in rushing, averaging just 49.8 yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry. With Le’Veon Bell in the fold, the Dolphins should be able to grind out more yards on the ground and take the pressure off of Ryan Fitzpatrick or Tua Tagovailoa.
That is not even mentioning Bell’s pass blocking and receiving skills would be much appreciated in Chan Gailey’s offense. Currently, Gaskins fills that role, and while he’s a decent receiver, he doesn’t hold a candle to Bell at his best. There’s no better friend for a young quarterback than an elite safety blanket.
Considering the Dolphins have only been to the playoffs once in the past decade, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them jump into the fray.
Are the San Francisco 49ers a perfect fit for Le’Veon Bell’s style?
This one is more about fit than anything else. The 49ers love running backs, and they love throwing the ball to running backs. Kyle Shanahan’s offense is built around the running game and making use of yards after the catch from every position. If these trade rumors are correct, then Le’Veon Bell would be a match made in heaven for that offense.
The 49ers offensive line would open holes that Bell hasn’t seen since his days in Pittsburgh, and Shanahan would scheme up plays to get him touches in the passing game with open field in front of him. Just thinking about the pair should make the rest of the NFL terrified.
It’s hard to see the 49ers putting even more resources into the running back position, but Bell could just be too perfect of a fit too pas up.