The Best Landing Spots for Le’Veon Bell

Le’Veon Bell has been one of the most significant talking points of the NFL season. His holdout continues, and each day it looks less and less likely that he will be returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have probably realized that Bell is more vested in his upcoming free agency than the team. Thus the reports are that they are willing to trade him. And nothing is wrong with what the either of the parties is doing. The Steelers made a “business decision” to franchise tag him and not offer him the long-term security he wanted, and Bell is making a “business decision” to wait for a larger contract. To each their own.

Some teams can use him, and now the question is, how much will it take to get a trade done? He has arguably been the best running back in the league since the 2014 season. Le’Veon Bell is a premier talent and wants to be paid like one, so the team that trades for him will have to take that into account when looking to acquire him. CBS’ NFL insider Jason La Canfora went onto the Pick Six Podcast to talk about Le’Veon’s value in a trade.

“I think a deal gets done, but it’s impossible to do the deal the Steelers would like to get done, a fair value football trade,” La Canfora noted. “You’ve got a disgruntled player who they don’t think they can bring back to their locker room, so that decreases value. You can’t extend the contract, that significantly decreases value. No one’s seen him on a football field, even in a preseason game, to see what he looks like, outside of street clothes, in six months. That’s decreasing the value.”

“All those mitigating factors mean they’re not going to be able to get the trade that they would have been able to make before the draft,” La Canfora added. “But there’s still a trade to be made.”

It’s fair to say that the Steelers will not get a first-round pick, nor should they. And whichever team trades for him is going to pay Bell long-term. With that being said, here are the best landing spots for Bell and/or the most exciting ones.

New York Jets

The Jets have reportedly been the most aggressive team in the saga. They have made their phone calls but have yet to make an offer. But they should do what it takes, outside of offering up a first-round pick and one of their young rising players to get him. And with a rookie quarterback at the helm, the Jets want to make everything as comfortable for him.

But, they have not surrounded him with the necessary talent to help him transition to the NFL. They have the 14th-ranked rushing attack, averaging 106 yards/game on the ground, so it hasn’t been bad. But Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell are not the names you want atop your depth chart at the running back position. And they have not given him any pass-catchers other than Quincy Enuwa.

Bell would immediately come in and not only be the Jets’ best running back, but he would be their best receiver (85 catches last season) and best overall offensive player. He is one of the few running backs that could overcome a shaky offensive one because of his overall skill: vision, patience, IQ, twitchiness, and ability to shake tackles off.

The Jets need to give Sam Darnold weapons, and Bell is the best one, not only on the market but one of the best in the game. And they have close to $106 million in cap space this offseason, so they will be able to afford him. And the new trend around the league is to go all-in while your quarterback is on his rookie deal, and this would be the first domino.

Indianapolis Colts

Outside of T.Y. Hilton, the Indianapolis Colts have never given Andrew Luck any offensive support. They never gave him proper protection nor a rushing attack. Since being drafted back in 2011, here are the Colts’ rushing ranks each season relative to the other 32 teams in the league: 26th, 22nd, 20th, 22nd, 29th, 23rd, and 22nd. So yeah, not great. However, there has been a slight improvement with the line this year, allowing only five sacks through the season’s first three games, and a middle-of-the-pack 18 quarterback hits. However, the rush attack ranks 29th this season.

And the Colts have tons of cap space after this season, according to Spotrac, so they can afford to make the splash and pay the man. And Andrew Luck is coming off a significant shoulder injury that caused him to miss all of the 2017 season. Not to mention he dealt with injuries back in 2015 where he lost eight games. Bell would help take pressure off Luck by lightening the load, thus protecting him from harm. And Luck is in his prime, so the Colts should do what they can to streamline building a team to help compete instead of wasting Luck’s prime years.

New England Patriots

The talk around the Patriots has been the dynamic between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, along with the lack of weapons Tom Brady has at his disposal. Other than Rob Gronkowski, Brady is dealing with makeshift weapons across the board. Their acquisition of uber-talented, but troubled, receiver Josh Gordon was one of 28 transactions regarding the receiving position since March, which is tied for the most.

Le’Veon Bell would help fill a lot of gaping holes. The rush attack has been lackluster, and Bell would immediately become their best receiver until Julian Edelman returns. And even then, Bell is comparable to Tom Brady’s favorite weapon. Imagine Edelman, Gronkowski, Bell, and Josh Gordon (if he turns his life around). That would be arguably the best corps of weapons in the game. And the Patriots have approximately $23 million in cap space this offseason, meaning they could afford to pay him what he wants.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers have been one of the surprises of the season. They are a few mistakes away from being 3-0. They have scored the third-most points, have averaged the most yards-per-game and yards-per-play. They are explosive as they come. Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and O.J. Howard comprises a Super Bowl-caliber group of pass-catchers. I’m not proclaiming that they are a Super Bowl team, but that’s how good the perimeter weapons are.

However, they are lacking at running back, averaging just 72.7 yards-per-game on three yards-per-carry. Ronald Jones II has not produced after being selected in the second round out of USC. Le’Veon would make this offense the most loaded one, and Tampa has the cap flexibility to keep him long-term.

Green Bay Packers

This one is probably not likely because the Packers will not have the cap room to sign Bell. They have just over $3 million in cap space this offseason, but if they really wanted to, they could make room to keep him. The Packers have always lagged in their rush attack with Aaron Rodgers at the helm of the offense. If they ever gave him a strong ground attack, who knows how far they could have gone in the past. It’s one thing not to have a defense to support you and no top-level receiver or tight end. But no running game either? He’s had to legitimately carry the team over the last seven or eight seasons.

And Rodgers is hobbled right now, so he can use all the support possible. They didn’t get him Khalil Mack, so they almost owe him someone like Bell.

Sports and food enthusiast. Love reading thriller and Comic books. Will talk almost any movie or tv show (more recent preferred), especially Westworld!

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