On Tuesday evening, it was reported that running back LeVeon Bell was released by the New York Jets.
The news created an exciting predicament for teams that may be interested in Bell. First, teams must assess how much of his poor play has resulted from the dumpster fire that is the New York Jets. The firing of Jets head coach Adam Gase is long overdue as the Jets remain winless going into the fifth week of the season, and the team is trending towards being one of the worst in NFL history.
Teams also must be wary of the number of carries Bell has throughout his entire career. With nearly 1500 NFL rushing attempts for his career, Bell is nearing the expiration date for most running backs. Bell’s next deal will likely be significantly less than the four-year, $52,500,000 contract he signed with the Jets in the 2019 offseason.
With all that in mind, here are three teams that could be potential landing spots for Bell.
#1: New England Patriots
The potential team-up of a running back like Bell and a coach like Bill Belichick should send shivers down the spine of any non-Patriots fan. This trade makes sense for both parties involved.
Current New England running backs James White and Rex Burkhead are set to become unrestricted free agents after this 2020 season. They also have Damien Harris and Sony Michel already on the roster, although both players have been on injured reserve at some point this season bring up questions about durability. Belichick rarely signs players with large egos, a fundamental component of the culture he has established in New England. However, Belichick knows Bell’s peak capabilities all too well dating back to the Patriots matchups with the Steelers. The temptation of putting a patient and methodical runner like Bell next to a seemingly revived Cam Newton may be too good of an offer for Belichick to pass up.
The running back committee of Michel, Harris, and Bell could complement each other well. Michel and Harris could be the goal line backs while Bell could handle the pass-catching duties on 3rd down. Signing with the Patriots also gives Bell a chance to face his old team when the Patriots face the Jets in Weeks 9 and 17.
Team #2: Tennesee Titans
Bell could be the final piece to the puzzle of an already stellar offense in the Titans. The Titans, led by head coach Mike Vrabel, utilize a very run-heavy style of football. The critical components to their offense are former Heisman trophy winner Derrick Henry and an above-average offensive line. However, Bell’s skill set can help the Titans open up the playbook to keep their opponents guessing.
While Henry has been stellar, he lacks one facet of his game that most modern running backs have. Over his five years in the league, Henry has just 62 receptions. Compare that to Bell’s 381 receptions in only two more years of play, and it is easy to see how the two could balance each other out. Henry would be the primary back on first and second down while Bell would be the third-down passing back. That would also allow the Titans to incorporate more play-action into their gameplan to help open up the field for when they do decide to run it. The Titans have just over 6 million dollars in cap space, according to Spotrac. With that being said, it should be enough to get Bell to join the Titans on a short term deal.
Team #3: The Miami Dolphins
While the first two teams would have been more competitive choices, the Dolphins would be Bell’s money grab option. The Dolphins have upwards of 17 million dollars in cap space, good for 8th most in the league. That is mostly because the Dolphins are in full rebuild mode. They took presumptive franchise quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in this past draft at 5th overall. Miami will be looking to be competitive while Tagovailoa is still on his cheap rookie deal.
Bell could provide an upgrade at a position that the Dolphins didn’t correctly address this offseason. Currently, the top three backs in Miami are Jordan Howard, Matt Brieda, and Myles Gaskin. Howard and Breida came over in offseason deals from the Bears and 49ers, respectively. Gaskin, a former 7th round pick, has taken over as the lead back despite being paid the least out of the three. However, Gaskin has found limited success, failing to crack 100 scrimmage yards in any singular game so far this season.
A backfield tandem of Gaskin and Bell in Miami could be beneficial for all parties involved. Gaskin can take some of the carries off of Bell while still being efficient. On the crucial downs, Bell could then play his best football and help extend drives. Having a veteran like Bell to help Tagovailoa when he eventually takes over for Ryan Fitzpatrick could be a great way to help ease the former Alabama star into the league. Another team in the AFC East would mean the revenge tour is in full effect for Bell.