The never-ending saga of Le’Veon Bell comes with a continued look at where he could end up.
After not playing a year and the conflict with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell is looking for a new home. He turned down a five-year $70 million contract from his old team because $30 million wasn’t enough in guaranteed money.
In short, Bell seems to want a deal that mirrors Todd Gurley’s contract. Not just in annual salary, but in guaranteed money. Hence, the tweets below:
There is definitely some hesitancy around Bell as he has had issues with violating NFL policies (in particular the substance abuse policy) and his cost versus value. I am going to focus on what seems to be the biggest hang up, to quote Rod Tidwell, “Show me the money, Jerry.”
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some places Bell could be playing in next fall.
The team with the most available cap space available on this list is the New York Jets. With Sam Darnold having a solid rookie season, the addition and retention of a couple of good wide receivers, and an improved offensive line, Bell could fit in here.
They have Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell, and Elijah McGuire– all of whom are close to or at the end of their contracts. However, they lack the patience and improvisation of LVB as a runner. Not to mention, he can do everything as a runner, catcher, and blocker.
Here’s a not-so-surprising option: the Oakland Raiders. This team already has a running back by committee (RBBC). Bell would be a long-term investment in a rebuilding situation. Gruden gave up Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, which may have seemed like an idiotic move, but he has first round picks.
Those picks could be used to beef up the offensive and defensive line. There is also the appeal of a new stadium and home in Las Vegas. While the team had a horrible record, the Raiders did show sparks of being a solid team including a win over the Steelers. Maybe adding Bell could kick start a new era in Oakland, Vegas, or wherever the Raiders are heading.
No Flight Risk
The third option is actually the team that is in the playoffs. The Seattle Seahawks have a solid RBBC, cap space, and a focus on the run game. They have around $60 million in cap space as well. Carroll has always been one to focus on who his bell cow is as it sets the tone for his team. In Bell, he is a proven commodity and Carson has shown to be a decent back. The Seahawks could be poised to make a Super Bowl run in this scenario.
Too Close To Home?
The next team would be the: the Buffalo Bills. LeSean McCoy is a similar back, granted an aging back, to Bell. That tandem could really allow for a scary offense. With Allen’s running ability and another year of growth, this team could be a Super Bowl contender.
McCoy is under contract until the 2020 season. This team had surprising victories and was one of the best defensive teams throughout the majority of the season. Adding Bell would be a serious upgrade.
Close, but no Cigar
Then, there are several options. Don’t get me wrong, Bell’s cryptic tweet, “Fairwell Miami” could spell things to come. In other words, the Pro Bowler could be on his way to Miami or Tampa Bay.
With the coaching change in Miami, it will be interesting to see if he believes in Kenyan Drake and company. Tampa’s salary cap situation is tricky as they are in the bottom third of the league in terms of money to spend. The salary cap for Miami is also low at around $20 million.
The Baltimore Ravens also deserve a nod, but it remains to be seen if they are willing to pay big on a back. On the flip side, their running backs have expiring contracts over the next couple seasons.
Everything is Bigger and Better
With those teams in mind, there is another darkhorse. A playoff contender, the Houston Texans have space in their salary cap as Alfred Blue and Lamar Miller have contracts ending in 2019 and 2020. This team has all the pieces and adding LVB could go a long way.
In the end, the Texans seem more focused on building the defense and eventually paying Deshaun Watson. This would be a great place for Bell, but my gut is leading me away from this as a home.
Testing the water
There is quite a large pool of available running backs this year, but Bell is the shiny new Ferrari. Let’s just sit back and see who will wind up owning such a luxurious talent.