After reportedly attempting to commerce Le’Veon Bell, the New York Jets gave up on their expensively acquired working 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 workforce buying him can achieve this for the league minimal.
Frankly, whichever workforce 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 48th out of 49 backs. As a receiver, he has averaged just below 7 yards per reception, which is 125th out of 132 gamers. He has been worse than a replacement-level again.
After all, any workforce 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 speeding 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 disenchanted whereas on these offers.
Bell will discover curiosity someplace, each as a reclamation challenge and due to his versatility. Which groups is likely to be ? Let’s run by way of the doable candidates, beginning with probably the most believable suitors:
Attainable locations for Le’Veon Bell
I will begin with the Bears, who’re the obvious match to me. Matt Nagy’s workforce is 4-1, and whilst you can poke holes in Chicago’s résumé, ESPN’s Football Power Index provides the Bears a 55.8% likelihood of creating it to the postseason. Additionally they have roughly $10 million in cap house, so including a small wage to their roster will not be a problem.
Bell can 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 appeared good as the first again, failing to high 30 yards speeding 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 needs to be one thing within the ballpark of eight to 10 touches per recreation.
The Chiefs are one other workforce with a younger again that may need Bell as a second choice. Rookie first-round choose Clyde Edwards-Helaire has had spectacular moments throughout his first 5 weeks, however he has struggled within the pink zone, failing to attain as soon as on seven touches contained in the 5-yard line. I am prepared 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 one in every of his six touches. Coach Andy Reid is the display screen whisperer, and I believe the Chiefs may discover a method to combine Bell into their offense alongside Edwards-Helaire.
No workforce appears extra desirous about compiling veteran working backs than the Bucs, who nonetheless have not actually discovered an efficient receiver for Tom Brady. Ronald Jones has been stable 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 aspect of the sport and has an ankle damage; Bell would doubtless take McCoy’s spot on the roster.
Brady has all the time had that participant in New England in a task that was alternately crammed by Kevin Faulk, Shane Vereen and most not too long ago James White. It is tough to think about the Buccaneers signing one other again, however strictly as a move protector and receiver, Bell would give the Bucs one thing they do not have.
One of the best story of the bunch would see Bell return to the Steelers, however I am skeptical there’s an ideal match. James Conner is averaging almost 5 yards per carry because the Pittsburgh starter, and whereas he has his damage points, Benny Snell Jr. was efficient in what amounted to a spot begin towards 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 doubtless be an improve on Samuels and a viable again behind an efficient Pittsburgh offensive line, however I am unsure he would get the kind of touches he would need in his bid to reemerge as an choice forward of free company in 2021. Moreover, issues did not precisely finish properly 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 among the best speeding 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 just 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 flawed 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 can be thrilled a few state of affairs through which he is likely to be phased out of the offense as soon as Chubb returns, however his greatest likelihood of trying good in a small pattern is likely to be taking part in on this run-heavy offense.
One workforce 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 received Raheem Mostert again for Sunday’s blowout loss to the Dolphins, nearly each one in every of its backs has a latest and/or vital damage historical past.
I ponder whether the 49ers may get notably artistic with Bell and use him much less like a pure working again and extra just like the kind of hybrid again Gase pretended to recommend Bell may turn into 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 can be one other a type of items.
The Titans went to 4-Zero with Tuesday’s victory over the Bills, and so they have a star again in Derrick Henry, however there’s little behind the 2019 speeding 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 ideal receiver. Bell would take among the workload off of Henry and provides the Titans a third-down choice. Jeremy McNichols is at the moment in that position for Ryan Tannehill & Co.
Few groups are throwing the ball extra steadily this season than the Seahawks, who’ve hit their bye at 5-0. Seattle would in all probability favor 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 damage.
Travis Homer took greater than 40% of the offensive snaps throughout Sunday night time’s win over the Vikings. Whereas the Seahawks have each Homer and fourth-round choose DeeJay Dallas as doable choices, Bell can be the perfect receiving again on the Seattle roster if he signed there.
The Dolphins’ backfield hasn’t carried out as anticipated this season. Miami assured Jordan Howard almost $5 million, however the former Chicago starter produced simply 14 speeding 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 major again has been 2019 seventh-rounder Myles Gaskin, who has 87 touches by way 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 a scarcity of explosiveness has left him beneath common in each speeding and receiving DVOA. I am unsure the Dolphins are prepared to surrender on their starter or both of their offseason additions, however Bell may very well 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 appeared 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 likely to be at risk of shedding his grip on the beginning job.
The Playing cards may transfer ahead with some mixture of Drake and Edmonds, however keep in mind that they traded for Drake a 12 months in the past whereas that they had Edmonds and David Johnson on their roster. Each Edmonds and Johnson had been injured on the time, so whereas it will doubtless take an damage to at the least one Cardinals again to get Bell on the roster, coach Kliff Kingsbury may discover a position for the shifty Bell if that occurs.