The Jets have officially released RB Le’Veon Bell, just hours after news broke that they were trying to trade him. Either they didn’t try very hard or there were no buyers at all for him.
I find it hard to believe the Jets couldn’t even get a 7th round pick for Lev Bell, but his stock has really plummeted since 2018.
But someone is definitely going to pick him up. He has not looked great over the past two seasons but it’s kinda hard to shine when you play for the Jets. I have a feeling that no matter where he goes he’s going to look better than he did on the Jets.
His contract situation is favorable for any team that signs him according to Field Yates:
And Bell tweeted this out after the news broke:
I’m sure the prospect of going to a better team has him feeling like a new man tonight.
So where will it be?
BetOnline released their list of odds for where Bell will sign, so we’ll go by this:
- Bears: This is a move I could see, as the Bears seem reluctant to commit to David Montgomery as a true workhorse back now that Tarik Cohen is done for the year with an ACL tear. At times Montgomery seems to disappear, although he also has flashes of brilliance from time to time as well. Adding another weapon to the 4-1 offense would be interesting. The Browns have shown you can make it work with two capable running backs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more teams try to copy the Chubb-Hunt tag team. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if the Bears signed him. I’m buying that they are the favorites to sign him for the simple reason that he would represent an instant upgrade for this Bears offense.
- Chiefs: This would be a blockbuster move. The Chiefs obviously just invested a first round pick in Clyde Edwards-Helaire but he hasn’t really knocked anyone’s socks off thus far. I could see the Chiefs wanting to add yet another weapon to the most dangerous offense in the league. Having Clyde and Le’Veon as a 1-2 punch would just be ridiculous. The Chiefs do use their backup running backs Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson quite frequently, so there is a role for Bell to play in this offense. Bell would obviously nudge out those two if he were to sign with KC. He’s a great pass catcher who could do major damage as a dump-off option for Mahomes, although Mahomes does prefer to air it out. If he wants to go ring-chasing, this is the move. Don’t underestimate that component of it. He’s going to have multiple offers, so he will have the luxury of choosing between contenders.
- Browns: It all depends on the severity of Nick Chubb’s injury. Things were working great in Cleveland when Chubb and Hunt were both healthy, and you’d assume that when Chubb comes back they’re more than set at the RB position. They even looked great leaning on just Kareem Hunt in their win against the Colts this past week, but it’s possible they would prefer to stick with the 1-2 punch approach going forward and Le’Veon Bell represents a clear upgrade over current backup RB D’Ernest Johnson. We don’t know for sure how long Chubb will be out, but he is on IR and guaranteed to miss at least 2 more games. Stefanski has said that they expect him back “this season” which doesn’t tell us much, but sounds like it could be a pretty long time. NFL Network initially reported that Chubb was going to miss at least 6 weeks, but the Browns haven’t committed to any timetable beyond the IR designation. If the Browns do sign Bell, take that as a confirmation that Chubb will be out way longer than just 3 weeks.
- Bucs: They’ve already got RoJo and Leonard Fournette, along with their rookie draft pick Ke’Shawn Vaughn and veteran signing LeSean McCoy. You have to assume they’d cut McCoy if they signed Bell, right? I don’t know about this one. It feels like Tampa already has a very crowded RB room, but with all the injuries they’ve sustained on offense this year it would be hard to blame them for wanting depth. Le’Veon has been known to split out as a wide receiver during his Pittsburgh days, so when Tampa’s WRs are decimated by injury I could totally see them running two-RB sets and putting Le’Veon in the slot or something. Bell is one of the best pass-catching RBs in the league and a versatile weapon capable of contributing to an offense in many ways. I could actually see this happening, honestly.
- Stillers: +900 odds on Le’Veon comin’ back dahn ta Picksburgh, huh? People want this to happen but I doubt the Steelers are big fans of his, nor he theirs. Still, while James Conner has been solid, he hasn’t been a world-beater by any means this season. I just don’t know if the Steelers would consider him a big enough upgrade over Conner to be worth signing. Their refusal to sign him to a big contract in 2017 was a sign they thought he had a little too many miles on his legs. He’s now 28 years old, although he’s only played 18 NFL games since leaving Pittsburgh. The Steelers are currently 4-0 and having a great bounce-back season, I doubt they’d want to mess with the chemistry of their team by adding Bell to the locker room. This just doesn’t feel like something the Steelers would do. It doesn’t fit their brand. I doubt Tomlin wants anything to do with him. Still, if LeBron could go back to Cleveland I’m sure Le’Veon can go back to Pittsburgh.
- Titans (tied with PIT): I figured Derrick Henry had a lock on every last carry in that offense, but the Tuesday Night Game™ showed that’s not entirely the case. They used their third-stringer McNichols a fair amount after second-stringer Darrynton Evans went down with an injury, although that may have been because they were kicking the absolute piss out of the Bills. The Titans don’t like to throw to Derrick Henry all that much, so Bell could come in as the third down back and catch passes out of the backfield. I actually think he’d complement Henry pretty well, now that I think about it. This offense would be downright scary with the 1-2 punch of Derrick Henry and Le’Veon Bell. Don’t discount the possibility of this happening.
- Patriots (in a five-way tie at +1000): they’re always rumored to be in the mix for players, whether it be by trade or through free agency. They have a history of taking a risk on “controversial” cast-offs like Antonio Brown and Cam Newton, (as well as Randy Moss, Chad Ochocinco, Corey Dillon, Josh Gordon, Albert Haynesworth, etc.) No doubt Billy B will at least kick the tires. However, the Patriots have a bunch of running backs already on the roster as they run a committee approach. Sony Michel, Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead and of course James White. One of these guys would have to be the odd-man out. I doubt they would give up on Michel after spending a first round pick on him in 2018, but he hasn’t been great since his rookie season. But I wouldn’t fully discount the Patriots here. Never discount Belichick’s desire to humiliate the New York Jets. He harbors an eternal, burning hatred for that franchise and will never get tired of doing things that piss them off.
As for the 49ers, Giants, Cardinals, Eagles, Seahawks and Dolphins, I don’t know. I’m not really intrigued by those prospects. The 49ers tried to sign him when he was a free agent but the Jets beat them out. The Giants are probably tanking anyway so who knows if they’d even want to pick him up? I can’t see Le’Veon wanting to go to another 0-5 team, although if he likes living in New York and doesn’t want to move the Giants could make sense.
Kenyan Drake hasn’t been great for the Cardinals but it’s not like they’re going to cut him if they get Bell. It would be a crowded backfield with Drake, Le’Veon and Chase Edmonds.
The Eagles already have Miles Sanders so I guess that would be an interesting backfield. The Seahawks have Carson and Carlos Hyde, but if they signed Bell he’d probably bump Hyde down in the depth chart even though Hyde has looked decent in the limited opportunities he’s gotten thus far–I guess Seattle would be an interesting move the more I look at it.
The the Dolphins are just kinda whatever.
There’s nobody on this list with a significant, pressing need at running back. In every scenario, Bell would be joining a committee, so it’s hard to really identify a clear-cut favorite to sign him. If this would’ve happened right after the Saquon injury, then the Giants would’ve been the prohibitive favorites to sign him. But they already picked up Freeman.
It’s tough to say. The Bears have the cap space to sign him and might see it as a move that could take them to the next level. I’ll side with Vegas here and say Le’Veon Bell will be a Bear either this week or next. Maybe the Bears will wait and see how David Montgomery looks against Carolina.