How the signing of Le’Veon Bell impacts the Ravens’ backfield

Le'Veon Bell, Ravens
NFL Analysis Network

The unfortunate season-ending knee injury to J.K. Dobbins put the Baltimore Ravens on a search for a running back to add to their depth chart. Their desire to find another running back was heightened when it was discovered that Justice Hill was also going to miss the entire season with an injury. Gus Edwards and Ty’Son Williams were the only running backs remaining on the roster, making it a necessity for them to ink a deal with someone before the season began. After considering their options, the Ravens have signed Le’Veon Bell, who has patiently waited for another opportunity this offseason.

If Baltimore had signed Bell four or five years ago, it would have been major news on every sports network. However, with Bell being a shell of his former self, it’s tough to gauge how much of an impact the veteran running back will make with the Ravens. Will Bell operate as the backup in Baltimore once he gets acclimated to the offense? Or will he simply just be a depth option behind Edwards and Williams throughout the season?

While everyone wonders what his role will look once he’s activated from the practice squad, here’s how Bell’s signing affects the Ravens’ backfield.

What Le’Veon Bell Brings To The Offense

There was once a time when Bell was one of the premier running backs in the NFL. The Ravens know firsthand just how talented Bell was earlier in his career when he was tormenting defenses on the Pittsburgh Steelers. His blend of patience and vision allowed him to dominate on the gridiron. Unfortunately, those days are long gone as Bell has now become a complementary running back, most recently for the Kansas City Chiefs.

In nine games with the Chiefs in 2020, Bell accounted for 353 total yards and two touchdowns on 76 touches while sharing the workload with Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams. What Bell brings to Baltimore’s offense is a running back that excels in pass protection and can contribute as a receiver. His contributions as a pass-catcher will definitely be welcomed, especially with Edwards lacking production in the receiving department throughout his career.

How Will The Backfield Of The Ravens Shake Out?

Some may see a former All-Pro running back joining a run-oriented team and believe he’s going to have a large role immediately. However, barring an injury to Edwards or Williams, I don’t envision Bell having a consistent workload for the Ravens. Edwards is the superior runner at this point of their careers, which is why he’ll garner the majority of the touches on the ground.

While Williams is somewhat of an unknown commodity, he has fresher legs than Bell, which could lead to him seeing the field often in 2021.

Baltimore signed Bell to their practice squad so he can get into football shape before they activate him to the full roster. Once he’s activated, Bell should rotate with Edwards and Williams, probably in more of a third-down role when the Ravens want a receiving option in the backfield. Let’s also not forget that Lamar Jackson himself is going to run the ball often, so Bell’s ceiling in the offense is severely limited due to the talent that already resides in Baltimore’s offense.

All in all, I don’t believe Le’Veon Bell sees much more of a workload than the one he saw with the Chiefs a season ago, putting him in line for a quiet season. Once again, that could be subject to change if Edwards or Williams suffers an injury.

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