Although creating much uncertainty throughout the offseason and the regular season Le’veon Bell accomplished what his ultimate goal was. Which was to hold out for guaranteed money and spearhead a new path for players, stating so to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler “It’s costing me some fans,” “A lot of people call me selfish, but I’m really not. I’m doing it for guys behind me or guys who don’t understand what’s going on in the business of football. The 22 years I’ve been playing football, I’ve always brought value. I don’t think the Steelers valued me as much.”. A currently dis-functional organization as it is, his year long holdout certainly did nothing to aid the culture or dysfunction in Pittsburgh rather only enhancing it. Bell’s stance however as contentious as it was remained clear, also stating to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler “I want to play. I want to win games and the playoffs,” Bell told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler in October. “But I’ve gotta take this stand. Knowing my worth and knowing I can tear a ligament or get surgery at any time, I knew I couldn’t play 16 games with 400 or more touches.”
Now with the Steelers missing the playoffs and vastly underachieving even without Bell, his time in Pittsburgh surely seems to be over. The team can still play some games or opt to essentially force him to come back by franchise tagging him once more, but both seem extremely unlikely to happen. So let’s examine the best and potential fits for the 2019 season:
Imagine an offense headlined by Andrew Luck, Le’veon Bell, T.Y. Hilton accompanied by Eric Ebron, Marlon Mack, and one of the better offensive lines in football that’s only going to grow and get better. Sounds pretty great right? It certainly is. The Colts also have quite a lead in terms of cap space comparatively to the rest of the league. With likely Executive of the year winner GM Chris Ballard hitting home runs on his first two draft classes, the Colts are in prime position to go and pick the player they want this offseason.
The only obstacle with a Bell-Colts marriage is the structure of the team. In a perfect world the Colts would not want to spend so much guaranteed money to a running back while they are just in the early process of building their team around Andrew Luck, but team-building is never perfect. The Colts though remain the most likely fit.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Not as appealing as the Colts, the 49ers will still be making a splash this offseason one way or another. The Jimmy Garoppolo Kyle Shanahan pairing will continue in the foreseeable future barring an unforeseen change. Adding Bell as another core piece of the franchise provides major stability, consistency, and threat level competitiveness that is much needed with the results of the first two years of the new reign in San Francisco. The 49ers have patched some holes that were seen in the past few seasons and none has been bigger than quarterback, but the roster still in a big way lacks talent.
A large obstacle in the 49ers way is 5% of their cap currently being held by their backfield in mostly Jerick Mckinnon and Kyle Jusczyk. Cutting Mckinnon would do nothing to help their cap essentially creating a negative because of the loss of talent. However, cutting Kyle Jusczyk would save 3 million this year and half of his deal against the cap going forward, 12 million in total. If the 49ers wish to sign Le’veon Bell and don’t want to have 10% of their cap taken up by running backs and fullback and PSA they shouldn’t! Then they’d need to cut Jusczyk to sign Bell. Regardless, San Francisco is in a good position going forward and are a likely fit for Bell’s services.
NEW YORK JETS
There aren’t many other teams in the league that lack as much offensive talent as the Jets do, but they also have the second largest amount of cap space in the league at 106,000. Luckily for them Bell’s primary goal is a hefty guaranteed contract. The Jets can provide that and certainly are not going to resist signing Bell, the only complication here will be Bell’s desire to join such a young team with such uncertainty going forward regardless of budding QB Sam Darnold.
Honorable Mention: BALTIMORE RAVENS
The Ravens outside of the Colts are the best football fit. The problem here will be money wise. They won’t be able to outbid any of the other teams mentioned if it comes too that. Baltimore also has a history of conducting business in a different way then most when it comes to their contracts and cap management. With the need to support Lamar Jackson heading into his sophomore season there likely isn’t a time to break out of their mold and make a run at signing a star in free agency.