It’s official. Le’Veon Bell didn’t report to Pittsburgh and will hit free agency this offseason. With the emergence of James Conner, it is unlikely Bell and the Steelers will reach the long-term agreement Bell is looking for. That means next season we will see Bell in a uniform other than the Black and Gold he has worn since his rookie year in 2013. Bell is looking for $15M a year for multiple years, which is going to require a butt-load of salary cap room. He will also be looking for a role that will showcase his skills as a three-down back. The teams below have the best chance to offer both.
The Raiders might be the ideal landing spot for Bell. Marshawn Lynch could be on his way to retirement (again) and the franchise is flushed with cash after choosing not to pay Khalil Mack. Oakland will have about $80M in spending room with only 31 players on the roster for next year. However, the Raiders have three first round draft picks this year and ten total. If the Raiders can hit their mark on these picks, they will be stocked with cheap talent and can overpay at RB over the length of the rookie contracts.
The Colts would love to bring in a dynamic back like Bell into an already dynamic offense. Marlon Mack is the incumbent RB and has performed admirably, but he isn’t Le’Veon Bell. Pairing Bell with Andrew Luck and TY Hilton creates a trio similar to the famous Killer Bs in Pittsburgh. Indy can also pay Bell using their absurd $125M of cap space this offseason. That kind of cash can fix the holes on Indy’s roster and still sign a guy like Le’Veon.
The Texans would likely have to move on from the underperforming Lamar Miller to make this happen, but it would only cost $1M in dead space. Houston would have $74M in cap space which will likely shrink to around $60M after signing Jadeveon Clowney. That is plenty of room for an up-and-coming team with a QB on a rookie deal to get three or four years of Le’Veon Bell. Houston’s biggest need is more consistency on offense and Bell is the best guy to deliver it. I’m already drooling over DeShaun Watson running an RPO with Bell. I would hate to be a defensive coordinator trying to stop that.
As wild as it sounds, the Ravens could come calling this offseason. New GM Eric DeCosta could look to make a splash signing to hit the ground running, and what better signing than snagging your biggest rivals star running back. The Ravens will have $35M in cap space and most of their team under contract. That gives the team a bit off room to play with after signing rookies. The team can save another $10.5M by cutting QB Joe Flacco and rolling with Lamar Jackson under center. Current starting running back, Alex Collins, is a free agent at the end of the season, leaving Le’Veon the lion’s share of the touches. Plus, he would get the opportunity to stick it to Pittsburgh two times a year.
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