It seems safe to assume, after the Pittsburgh Steelers ransacked Le’Veon Bell’s locker, that we can cross the Steelers off of Bell’s list of possible suitors in 2019.
We know Bell will become a free agent, unless the Steelers lose their minds and give him a third franchise tag at elite quarterback money. Bell is a year older, but he also didn’t go through the grind of a season with 400-plus touches. He’ll be a very interesting free agent in a few months.
A million words have been spoken and written about Bell’s decision to hold out all season, but what’s done is done and it’s time to figure out where he might land. One sportsbook has already set odds.
Who are the favorites to sign Le’Veon Bell?
Via OddShark, Bovada has set lines on Bell’s next team. A lot of odds set by offshore books are low limits and mostly for publicity/entertainment, but it’s still a fun look at the possible suitors for Bell next March. As for the odds themselves, it’s based on how much money you’d win on a $100 bet, so +300 means you’d get a $300 win.
Let’s look at teams with the top odds:
New York Jets (+285): The Jets are the favorites, and it does make some sense. An elite running back would help Sam Darnold. The Jets have more than enough projected cap space, second in the NFL according to OverTheCap. Bell would give the Jets another superstar, which they always seem to like, and a shot in the arm on offense. I don’t mind them being listed as favorites to land Bell.
Oakland Raiders (+450): The Raiders aren’t among the league leaders in projected cap space, which is shocking because who exactly are they paying aside from Derek Carr? With Marshawn Lynch perhaps finally retiring, there’s a need. It still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a team in a total rebuild, though maybe it fits from a marketing standpoint. The Raiders need someone to sell to Las Vegas fans when they move there in 2020.
Philadelphia Eagles (+650): The most interesting team on the list of favorites. It’s a marquee team and a great running back would be huge for their offense. The stumbling block might be cap space. OverTheCap projects the Eagles as having the least cap space in the league for 2019. That can change with some cuts, but it would still be tough to spend so much on a running back. Hard to see it happening.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+650): The Buccaneers just used a second-round pick on Ronald Jones this year, but he hasn’t done much. This is a good offense and would be really impressive with Bell. It’s hard to handicap their chances because it’s possible this team has a new coach, general manager and maybe quarterback by next season. I don’t see the fit, but maybe.
Baltimore Ravens (+900): Huh. If Bell wants to stick it to the Steelers, this would be the team to sign with. From a pure entertainment factor, Bell to the Ravens is the best story. They’re in decent cap position. Bell with Lamar Jackson as a running threat (if the team makes that quarterback transition in 2019) could easily lead the league in rushing. It’s another team that might make major changes this offseason, but the Ravens make more sense than some other teams on the list, just for the Bell revenge angle. It would launch a million debates if he took a little less money to play against the Steelers.
Others: There are some other teams that stand out as reasonable candidates. The Colts (+900) have the most projected cap space in the league and while Marlon Mack is good, he’s not Bell. The 49ers (+900) spent a lot on Jerick McKinnon, but if they’re wary on his health, Bell would be a monster in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The Houston Texans (+1200) could use a big-time running back to help Deshaun Watson.
And further down the list, the Steelers are +1600. Wouldn’t that be something?
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