Article by: Kevin Eagleson
After sitting out an entire season in attempt to protest his second consecutive franchise tag, running back Le’Veon Bell is now set to enter free agency. It appears as if Bell will finally be granted the contract he has been waiting for, however there will likely be a few teams attempting to land the star 27-year-old. Bell is projected to reset the running back market, and will likely become the highest paid player at the position. So, what team will be willing to spend big on one of the game’s most talented playmakers?
The last time we saw the 3-time pro bowler play, he rushed for 1,291 yards while adding another 655 yards through the air. The dual threat back thrived in the high-powered Pittsburgh offense alongside Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. Bell certainly proved himself as one of the top running backs in the league and deserving of a large contract. He was obviously aware of this, as he refused to play the 2018 season due to the 14.5-million-dollar franchise tag being insufficient. It appears Bell’s strategy succeeded, as he now enters free agency completely healthy, and will likely find a long-term deal.
Most teams could benefit from Le’Veon Bell’s talents, however, only a select few have sufficient cap space to bring in the superstar running back. Some favorable landing spots for Bell simply cannot afford the all pro back’s contract (the Eagles for example). While other financially capable teams already have a system or other running backs in place that would not benefit from Bell (Ravens, 49er’s, Colts).
There are two organizations that appear to be set up perfectly to land Le’Veon. Both with ample amounts of cap space and a need for an additional offensive playmaker, with the New York Jets and the Houston Texans both fitting the bill.
The Jets have struggled in recent years and went 4-12 this past season. They have appeared to find their franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold, but have not surrounded the 3rd overall pick with much offensive talent. New York desperately needs playmakers on offense around their quarterback, and right now is the perfect time while Darnold is under his rookie contract, contributing to their large 100 million dollars in cap space. The Jets have plenty of room to bring on Bell.
The only other team that would make sense for Bell are the Texans, as previously mentioned before. Houston also has ample cap space with 78 million. Like Darnold, Deshaun Watson’s rookie contract makes a huge free agent signing possible. Contrary to New York, Houston is coming off of a successful 2018 season, winning their division and hosting a playoff game. With Deandre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson, the Texans have one of the best duos in the NFL to build around. Adding Le’Veon would open up more opportunities in the passing game, and take some attention away from Hopkins. Bell would create a more well-rounded offense where Deshaun Watson could be able to unleash his full potential. Houston could very well pursue Bell with all they have and offer him a huge deal.
Houston and New York provide two seemingly perfect landing spots for Le’Veon Bell. However, in the end, the Jets are the most likely destination. After leaving what appeared to be a Super Bowl contending Steeler’s team, it is evident winning is not all the running back considers. It is likely he ends up wherever the money takes him, and New York’s cap space is almost unmatched. They will likely offer Bell what he wants in order to revamp their offense. If this mega deal is offered, it is hard to picture Bell turning down the opportunity to be paid and play in the New York market.
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