The Pittsburgh Steelers parted ways with Le’Veon Bell last year. Does his present involvement with his former teammates mean anything?
Relationships in the NFL are a peculiar thing. The Pittsburgh Steelers offered Le’Veon Bell a generous contract back in 2018, but without informing his teammates or coaches, the two-time All-Pro running back elected to sit the season out so he could hit free agency in 2019.
Despite the bridges that were burnt in the process, Bell apparently still has a very good relationship with some of his former Steelers teammates, particularly at the running back position. Recently, Bell was spotted working out with James Conner and Jaylen Samuels:
This isn’t the first time Bell has been spotted training alongside some current Steelers players. In fact, other recent video from Instagram posts suggests that the running backs have been training together in Florida for some time now.
While this means nothing to Pittsburgh, it’s well known that the New York Jets are open to dealing Le’Veon Bell. The problem is finding a suitor.
Bell is set to make over $15.4 million in 2020 and he has nearly $44 million remaining on the last three years of his deal he signed until 2022, according to Over the Cap. After averaging a dismal 3.2 yards per carry in 15 starts last season, finding a trade partner who is willing to take on Bell’s massive cap hit would be nearly impossible.
Eventually, Le’Veon Bell will probably be cut by the Jets in an effort to get back some of the cap space lost from his deal. But it won’t be this year, as New York would take a $19 million dead money hit. However, by next offseason, Bell could be released and be a free man once again.
Should the Steelers be at all interested in Bell?
If Bell is to be let go next offseason, should the Pittsburgh Steelers have any interest? The simple answer is no. Running back shelf life is a very real statistic, and the average back starts declining in play after the age of 26. Bell will be 29 next offseason, and despite his dominance in the past, they shouldn’t think twice about picking him up.
It’s also important to remember that everything Bell did in Pittsburgh, he didn’t do it alone. Bell had the benefit of playing with one of the league’s best offensive line groups over a four-year stretch in addition to getting Roethlisberger in some of his best years as a professional. With receivers like Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant to stretch defenses, Bell was in a very fortunate situation in Pittsburgh.
The fact of the matter is that if Le’Veon Bell played a more important position, I would consider bringing him back on a cheap deal – even coming off a down season. But the value of the running back position just isn’t very important, and the Steelers dodged a bullet when he turned down a long-term deal to stay in Pittsburgh.