Frankly, whatever team signs Bell won’t get a significant deal on paper. The last time he was an effective player was in 2017, when he approached Scramage for over 2,000 yards. He sat out all of 2018 in a contract dispute and then did nothing in his time with the Jets after signing in 2019. Since the start of last season, Bell has averaged 3.2 yards per carry, ranking 48th out of 49. As a receiver, he has averaged over 7 yards per reception, ranking 125th out of 132 players. He has been worse than a replacement-level back.
Of course, any team that acquires Bell hopes to find a new life away from the Jets and coach Adam Gesse. By NFL Next Gen Staats, however, Bell’s problems were not strictly the product of an offensive line. Since the start of last season, he has built the expected 110 rushing yards given his blocking, the fourth-worst mark in the league behind Devonta Freeman, Peyton Barber and Todd Gurley. Freeman, Gurley and Bell all signed lucrative contract extensions, and each was cut after being disappointed over those deals.
Bell will get interest somewhere as an interest project and because of his versatility. Which teams might be interested? Let’s run through the possible candidates starting with the most possible pleasures:
Potential destination for Le’Van Bell
I’ll start with the beers, which are the most obvious to me. Matt Negi’s team is tied 4–1, and when you can make a hole in Chicago’s résumé, ESPN’s Football Power Index gave the Bears a 55.8% chance to make it to the postseason. He also has about $ 10 million in cap space, so adding a small salary to his roster will not be an issue.
Bell will be a replacement for Tariq Cohen, who went down in late September with a torn ACL. David Montgomery is on the roster and will still be the featured back, but the 2019 third-rounder did not look as good as the primary back, failing to run or get 30 yards in each of the last 30 games. Chicago has used Cordrell Patterson as a change of pace, but Bell will immediately step in and take the role of Cohen into the offense, which should be something in the ballpark of eight to 10 touches per game.
The chief minister is another team with a youth back that wants Bell as another option. Rookie first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helier has had impressive moments during his first five weeks, but has struggled in the red zone when he failed to score once on seven touches inside the 5-yard line. I’m ready to chalk a small specimen, but Edwards-Hellier’s back is heavy. Darrell Williams has averaged 3.2 yards per carry and less than 6 yards per reception, and Darwin Thompson suffered a loss on one of his six touches. Coach Andy Reid is screen whisper, and I doubt the Chiefs might find a way to integrate Bell into their offense with Edwards-Hellaire.
No team is more interested in compiling running back veterans than the Bucs, who are still not an effective receiver for Tom Brady. Ronald Jones has been solid as a runner, but has had serious problems with the fall in the passing game. Leonard Fournette is not healthy. LeSean McCoy has not been effective in any aspect of the game and has an ankle injury; Bell will likely replace McCoy on the roster.
Brady has always played the role of a player in New England who was filled as an alternate by Kevin Falk, Shane Wren and more recently James White. Buccaneers are difficult to sign one more Back, but strictly as a pass protector and receiver, Bell would give the Bucs something they don’t have.
Bunch’s best story would seem to return Bell to the Steelers, but I doubt there’s a great fit there. James Conner is about 5 yards per carry as a Pittsburgh starter, and while he has injury issues, Benny Snell Jr. was dominant at the time when a spot started against the Giants when Connor was unavailable. The Steelers also have Anthony McFarland Jr. in reserve and Jaylen Samuels in the third-down role.
Bell would probably be an upgrade over Samuels and a viable one behind an effective Pittsburgh offensive line, but I’m not sure the kind of touch he would make in his bid to make his bid as an option ahead of free agency in 2021. Would like Also, things did not end well between the two sides, given that Bell was held for a season before leaving Pittsburgh in free agency. Familiar means something, which is why the Steelers are where they are on this list, but Bell makes more sense elsewhere.
The Browns are starting at 4–1 and have one of the best attacks in football. Coach Bill Callahan’s line is clearing holes for Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb, but Chubb is out indefinitely with a sprained MCL. Bell is more similar to Hunt than the former Georgia star, but Bell was an effective runner between tackles in Pittsburgh, and there is nothing wrong with having two backs who can catch the ball.
Bell will step in for D’Arnest Johnson, who has averaged 6 yards per carry to fill in on his 22 carries. I’m not sure Bell would be thrilled about a situation in which he would be out of offense once Chubb returns, but his best chance of looking good in a small sample is in this run-heavy offense Can.
One team that Bell was associated with when he approached free agency was the 49ers, who might not have enough weapons for coach Kyle Shahan. San Francisco has been beaten around its roster, and although it does get Rahim Mostert back for Sunday’s blistering defeat to the Dolphins, each of its backs has a history of recent and / or significant injury.
I wonder if the 49ers with Bell could be particularly creative and use him at least as pure running and as the hybrid back gasses pretending to suggest Bell to be in New York. Shanahan likes nothing more than having offensive weapons that are a threat to both the runner and receiver with the ball in his hands. Bell would be one of those pieces.
The Titans went 4–0 with Tuesday’s win over Billings, and they have one star back in Derrick Henry, but fall far short of the 2019 running back leader. Henry has racked up a lot in his first four matches, but he is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry and has never been a great receiver. Bell took some of Henry’s workload and gave the Titans a third-down option. Jeremy McNichols is currently in that role for Ryan Tannehill & Co.
Some teams are throwing the ball more often this season than the Sewks, who have beaten their byes 5–0. Seattle would probably like to make some additions to a struggling defense, and its rotation has Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde, but Carson has never finished a full 16-game season, and Hyde has been ruled out with a shoulder injury.
Travis Homer took more than 40% offensive photos during Sunday night’s win over the Vikings. If the Seahawks have Homer and fourth-round pick DeeJay Dallas as possible options, Bell would get the best back on the Seattle roster if he signed there.
The Dolphins backfield has not performed as expected this season. Miami guaranteed Jordan Howard nearly $ 5 million, but the former Chicago starter yielded just 14 towing yards on 18 carries before being snapped for victory in the 49ers. Matt Breida’s 27 carries have produced a total of 100 yards, but the primary back is 2019 seventh-rounder Myles Gaskin, who has touched 87 through five matches, taking 66% of offensive snacks.
Gaskin’s versatility is a plus, and he ranks ninth in success rate, but his lack of explosiveness leaves him below average in rushing and receiving DVOA. I’m not sure if the Dolphins are ready to give up either their starter or one of their offseason editions, but Bell could be an upgrade if they are.
In the end, the Cardinals have to be disappointed with what they have seen from Kenyan Drake. The change-tagged back scored his first touchdown last week, but he averages just 3.7 yards per touch as both runner and receiver. Chase Edmonds looks like a more dynamic player in the Arizona backfield, and while Drake was a front-line first-round pick in most fantasy drafts, the former Dolphins standout may be in danger of losing his grip on the starting job.
The Cards may move forward with some combination of Drake and Edmonds, but remember that they traded for Drake a year ago, while they had Edmonds and David Johnson in the roster. Edmunds and Johnson were both injured at the time, so at least one Cardinal was likely to be hurt to get Bell on the roster, if coach Cliff Kingsbury could get the role for Shifty Bell .