All-Pro running back Le’veon Bell did not report to the Steelers team facility Tuesday, making him ineligible to play in 2018. With Bell sitting out the season it is fair to conclude he won’t be returning to Pittsburgh next season. Even if the Steelers tried to place the franchise tag on Bell to prohibit him from hitting free agency, it would cost them over 20 million dollars to do so.
Since Bell won’t be returning to Pittsburgh, everyone is trying to predict where will Bell and in free agency. Being that Bell wants a high paying, long-term contract, teams with a lot of cap space are at the top of the list. Teams like the Jets, Raiders, Colts, and 49ers will have the most cap space this offseason.
However, there are also contending teams who if they had the cap space, would be ecstatic to get Bell on their team. One of those teams is the Green Bay Packers. Under former general manager Ted Thompson, Green Bay would never consider a free agent splash like the signing of Bell. But now under the direction of Brian Gutekunst, the Packers are looking to sign premier talent in the free agent market. No more evident than last year when the Packers signed tight end Jimmy Graham.
Here are some betting numbers on where Bell will be playing in 2019:
Le’Veon to the Jets? ? pic.twitter.com/LXDxtYw1x8
— B/R Betting (@br_betting) November 13, 2018
What Le’Veon could bring to Green Bay
With a superstar talent like Bell, he brings a lot to the table. For starters, Bell in the Packers backfield would make things easier for Aaron Rodgers. Then, for the first time in his career, Rodgers would have a running back who commands eight men in the box. The tandem of Rodgers and Le’Veon would cause defensive coordinators to pick their poison when playing the Packers.
Green Bay is known for their formable passing attack and the late game heroics of Rodgers. However, the addition of Bell would limit how often Rodgers heroics are needed. Instead of always playing from behind, Green Bay could now ball control and win the time of possession. Last year with the Steelers, when Bell was in the lineup ranked fourth in time of possession at 32 minutes per game. With the Packers dominating time of possession, their suspect defense can now be fresh and allow fewer points per game.
What could prohibit this move?
Since Green Bay doesn’t have a ton of cap space this offseason, acquiring the former Spartan won’t be easy. Not to mention, they just signed Rodgers to the biggest contract in NFL history just before the season started. Paying both Rodgers and Bell top dollar will severely hurt the Packers chances of building up defense good enough to help win a super bowl.
Besides money, other factors may make Gutekunst cautious to sign the Michigan State product. Just recently the Packers may have found they’re running back of the future in Aaron Jones. Jones had a career day Sunday versus the Dolphins, with 145 rushing yards, and two touchdowns. Although it’s a one-game sample, Jones has been producing all season. He leads the league in rushing yards per carry at 6.8.
Additionally, there has been a recent youth movement going on in Green Bay. When the Packers front office notices an area of weakness on the roster, they use the draft to address the problem. In this year’s draft, the selected two cornerbacks in the first two rounds. Afterward, in the later rounds, they drafted three wide receivers to compensate for the departure of Jordy Nelson. Meanwhile, in 2017 they drafted both Jones and Jamaal Williams to fill the running back hole on their roster.
So, after productive play from Jones, Gutekunst may be hesitant to give up on young talent, that he can pay less than what he would pay for the star running back. Bringing Bell to Green Bay would be exciting for Packers fans and the entire league. I mean who wouldn’t want to see Bell and Rodgers on the field together.