After reportedly making an attempt to commerce Le’Veon Bell, the New York Jets gave up on their expensively acquired operating again and released him Tuesday night. The Jets are nonetheless on the hook to pay Bell a $2.5 million bonus Thursday and the prorated the rest of his base wage, which quantities to $6 million. Any group buying him can accomplish that for the league minimal.
Frankly, whichever group indicators Bell will not be getting a major cut price on paper. The final time he was an efficient participant was 2017, when he approached 2,000 yards from scrimmage. He sat out all of 2018 in a contract dispute after which did nothing in his time with the Jets after signing in 2019. For the reason that begin of final season, Bell has averaged 3.2 yards per carry, which ranks forty eighth out of 49 backs. As a receiver, he has averaged slightly below 7 yards per reception, which is one hundred and twenty fifth out of 132 gamers. He has been worse than a replacement-level again.
In fact, any group buying Bell goes to hope that he finds new life away from the Jets and coach Adam Gase. By NFL Subsequent Gen Stats, although, Bell’s issues weren’t strictly a product of a middling offensive line. For the reason that begin of final season, he has produced 110 dashing yards beneath expectation given his blocking, the fourth-worst mark within the league behind Devonta Freeman, Peyton Barber and Todd Gurley. Freeman, Gurley and Bell all signed profitable contract extensions, and every was reduce after they upset whereas on these offers.
Bell will discover curiosity someplace, each as a reclamation undertaking and due to his versatility. Which groups is perhaps ? Let’s run by means of the attainable candidates, beginning with essentially the most believable suitors:
Potential locations for Le’Veon Bell
I am going to begin with the Bears, who’re the obvious match to me. Matt Nagy’s group is 4-1, and when you can poke holes in Chicago’s résumé, ESPN’s Football Power Index offers the Bears a 55.8% likelihood of constructing it to the postseason. In addition they have roughly $10 million in cap area, so including a small wage to their roster will not be a difficulty.
Bell could be a alternative for Tarik Cohen, who went down with a torn ACL on the finish of September. David Montgomery is on the roster and would nonetheless be the featured again, however the 2019 third-rounder hasn’t seemed good as the first again, failing to high 30 yards dashing or receiving in every of the previous two video games. Chicago has used Cordarrelle Patterson as a change of tempo, however Bell would instantly step in and take Cohen’s position within the offense, which ought to be one thing within the ballpark of eight to 10 touches per recreation.
The Chiefs are one other group with a younger again which may need Bell as a second possibility. Rookie first-round choose Clyde Edwards-Helaire has had spectacular moments throughout his first 5 weeks, however he has struggled within the purple zone, failing to attain as soon as on seven touches contained in the 5-yard line. I am keen to chalk that as much as a small pattern, however the backs behind Edwards-Helaire are underwhelming. Darrel Williams has averaged 3.2 yards per carry and fewer than 6 yards per reception, and Darwin Thompson misplaced a fumble on considered one of his six touches. Coach Andy Reid is the display screen whisperer, and I believe the Chiefs might discover a approach to combine Bell into their offense alongside Edwards-Helaire.
No group appears extra occupied with compiling veteran operating backs than the Bucs, who nonetheless have not actually discovered an efficient receiver for Tom Brady. Ronald Jones has been strong as a runner, however he has had severe issues with drops within the passing recreation. Leonard Fournette is not wholesome. LeSean McCoy hasn’t been efficient in any side of the sport and has an ankle harm; Bell would possible take McCoy’s spot on the roster.
Brady has at all times had that participant in New England in a job that was alternately crammed by Kevin Faulk, Shane Vereen and most lately James White. It is tough to think about the Buccaneers signing one other again, however strictly as a cross protector and receiver, Bell would give the Bucs one thing they do not have.
The most effective story of the bunch would see Bell return residence to the Steelers, however I am skeptical there’s an important match. James Conner is averaging practically 5 yards per carry because the Pittsburgh starter, and whereas he has his harm points, Benny Snell Jr. was efficient in what amounted to a spot begin in opposition to the Giants when Conner was unavailable. The Steelers even have Anthony McFarland Jr. in reserve and Jaylen Samuels in a third-down position.
Bell would possible be an improve on Samuels and a viable again behind an efficient Pittsburgh offensive line, however I am unsure he would get the type of touches he would need in a bid to reemerge as an possibility forward of free company in 2021. Moreover, issues did not precisely finish effectively between the 2 events, provided that Bell held out for a season earlier than leaving Pittsburgh in free company. Familiarity means one thing, which is why the Steelers are the place they’re on this listing, however Bell makes extra sense elsewhere.
The Browns are off to a 4-1 begin and have top-of-the-line dashing assaults in soccer. Coach Invoice Callahan’s line has been clearing holes for Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb, however Chubb is out indefinitely with a sprained MCL. Bell is rather more much like Hunt than he’s to the previous Georgia star, however Bell was an efficient runner between the tackles in Pittsburgh, and there is nothing incorrect with having two backs who can catch the ball.
Bell would step in for D’Ernest Johnson, who has averaged 6 yards a pop on his 22 carries filling in for Chubb. I am unsure Bell could be thrilled a couple of state of affairs wherein he is perhaps phased out of the offense as soon as Chubb returns, however his finest likelihood of wanting good in a small pattern is perhaps taking part in on this run-heavy offense.
One group that was linked to Bell when he was approaching free company was the 49ers, who can by no means have sufficient weapons for coach Kyle Shanahan. San Francisco is beat up round its roster, and though it acquired Raheem Mostert again for Sunday’s blowout loss to the Dolphins, just about each considered one of its backs has a latest and/or vital harm historical past.
I ponder whether the 49ers may get significantly inventive with Bell and use him much less like a pure operating again and extra just like the type of hybrid again Gase pretended to recommend Bell may grow to be in New York. Shanahan loves nothing greater than having offensive weapons who’re threats as each runners and receivers with the ball of their arms. Bell could be one other a kind of items.
The Titans went to 4-0 with Tuesday’s victory over the Bills, they usually have a star again in Derrick Henry, however there’s little behind the 2019 dashing chief. Henry has racked up loads of quantity over his first 4 video games, however he is averaging simply 3.9 yards per carry and has by no means been an important receiver. Bell would take a number of the workload off of Henry and provides the Titans a third-down possibility. Jeremy McNichols is presently in that position for Ryan Tannehill & Co.
Few groups are throwing the ball extra continuously this season than the Seahawks, who’ve hit their bye at 5-0. Seattle would possible most likely choose to make some additions to a struggling protection, and it has Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde in its rotation, however Carson has by no means accomplished a full 16-game season, and Hyde has been out of motion with a shoulder harm.
Travis Homer took greater than 40% of the offensive snaps throughout Sunday evening’s win over the Vikings. Whereas the Seahawks have each Homer and fourth-round choose DeeJay Dallas as attainable choices, Bell could be the very best receiving again on the Seattle roster if he signed there.
The Dolphins’ backfield hasn’t gone as anticipated this season. Miami assured Jordan Howard practically $5 million, however the former Chicago starter produced simply 14 dashing yards on 18 carries earlier than being scratched for the win over the 49ers. Matt Breida‘s 27 carries have produced a complete of 100 yards, however the main again has been 2019 seventh-rounder Myles Gaskin, who has 87 touches by means of 5 video games whereas taking 66% of the offensive snaps.
Gaskin’s versatility is a plus, and he ranks ninth in success rate, however an absence of explosiveness has left him beneath common in each dashing and receiving DVOA. I am unsure the Dolphins are prepared to surrender on their starter or both of their offseason additions, however Bell could possibly be an improve if they’re.
Lastly, the Cardinals should be annoyed with what they’ve seen from Kenyan Drake. The transition-tagged again scored his first landing final week, however he’s averaging simply 3.7 yards per contact, each as a runner and receiver. Chase Edmonds has seemed just like the extra dynamic participant within the Arizona backfield, and whereas Drake was a borderline first-round choose in most fantasy drafts, the previous Dolphins standout is perhaps at risk of shedding his grip on the beginning job.
The Playing cards might transfer ahead with some mixture of Drake and Edmonds, however keep in mind that they traded for Drake a yr in the past whereas they’d Edmonds and David Johnson on their roster. Each Edmonds and Johnson have been injured on the time, so whereas it might possible take an harm to at the least one Cardinals again to get Bell on the roster, coach Kliff Kingsbury might discover a position for the shifty Bell if that occurs.