One of the NFL’s worst relationships reached its nadir on Tuesday when the New York Jets released running back Le’Veon Bell.
Now Bell can take the $27 million in guaranteed money he made in 17 games with the Jets and sign with the team of his choosing — and one that wants him, of course.
Bell has looked nothing like the shifty All-Pro who piled up rushing yards and touchdowns with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But at 28 years old and with relatively low mileage, there’s reason enough for a team to hope that Bell can return to form — or something close to it— once he’s away from the toxicity of the Jets.
If he can be signed at a discount, all the better.
Who will sign Le’Veon Bell?
The teams that make the most sense are playoff contenders who need running back help. And that leaves a few options for Bell, starting with ...
The Bills came down to earth Tuesday night in a blowout loss to the Tennessee Titans. But they’re still riding the high of a 4-1 start and the emergence of quarterback Josh Allen helming a dangerous passing attack.
Bell could provide another weapon in the passing game while sharing the rushing load with second-year running back Devin Singletary. Signing Bell would be a shrewd move for a team with its sights set on the AFC East title and beyond.
Despite the disaster that is the Bears’ quarterback situation, they’re off to a 4-1 start. After a disappointing rookie campaign, running back David Montgomery continues to perform at a middling level whether lining up in the backfield with Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles. He is averaging 3.9 yards per carry.
With Tarik Cohen done for the season with an ACL tear, the Bears have tried to get Montgomery more involved in the passing game to little avail. Bell would be an upgrade there. Could he provide a spark for an offense that struggles seemingly no matter what moves head coach Matt Nagy makes?
New England Patriots
Is there a more Bill Belichick move than signing a former All-Pro at a discount after a conference rival paid him big money? The Patriots’ running back rotation features a revolving door of Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White and Damien Harris.
A backfield featuring Bell and Cam Newton sounds like one that could do some serious damage in the AFC East.
Los Angeles Chargers
At 1-4, the Chargers don’t exactly fit the contender requirement met by other teams listed here. But they have a red-hot rookie quarterback in Justin Herbert, and it’s worth seeing what they can do if they can get him some help in the running game.
Joshua Kelly and Justin Jackson have plodded in the absence of an injured Austin Ekeler. It’s hard to imagine that Bell wouldn’t be an immediate upgrade with the potential to shine next to Herbert’s playmaking ability.
OK, this one seems like a long shot.
Is there a chance this bridge wasn’t completely torched? Bell claimed last season that the Steelers were interested when he was reported to be on the trading block.
That seems hard to believe considering the salary Bell would have carried to Pittsburgh and the Steelers’ previous unwillingness to pay him a premium. Now that the price will be substantially less, can these two parties make up? The 4-0 Steelers are absolutely Super Bowl contenders, and Bell would amount to an ultimate luxury sharing the backfield with James Conner
We already know what Bell and Ben Roethlisberger can do together.
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