Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert says the team won’t use the franchise or transition tag on running back Le’Veon Bell, which means he’ll become an unrestricted free agent. There’s a lot of teams with cap space and plenty who could use a star running back.
Here are the top five teams that should be looking to sign Bell this offseason.
Indianapolis Colts - No team has more cap space than the Indianapolis Colts, which makes them the favorites off top when you consider Bell won’t be signing for peanuts. The Colts struggled to run the football with Peyton Manning at quarterback and some of those same issues remain during the Andrew Luck era. The Colts finished 20th in rushing yards this season. Marlon Mack is a solid, young running back who comes cheap, but he’s not the explosive runner Bell is and isn’t a difference maker. If the Colts want to take that next step and get the most out of Luck, signing Bell should be a no-brainer.
New York Jets - The New York Jets have the second most cap space in the NFL and have been linked to Bell for quite some time. The Jets have had a different leading rusher each of the last four years, which shows there’s been very little stability at the position since Curtis Martin retired. It doesn’t help that last years leading rusher Isaiah Crowell is expected to be released. The Jets have their franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold, and their main focus should be surrounding him with as much help as possible. Bell is a nice complement to a young QB and will take a ton of pressure off him as he continues to grow.
San Francisco 49ers - Word is that Antonio Brown wants to be traded to the San Francisco 49ers. If that happens, why wouldn’t Bell follow his buddy across the country and play in an offensive friendly system? The 49ers have the cap space to take on the star running back, and they could certainly use one when you consider the future of the position isn’t on this roster. Last year was a running back by committee for the 49ers. The 49ers have their creative coach in Kyle Shanahan, and adding Jimmy Garoppolo and Bell (Brown?) into to the mix would make the 49ers instantly a candidate for most improved team in the league in 2019.
Oakland Raiders - The Oakland Raiders have the cap space and draft picks to eventually become a respectable team, but short term there’s not a lot to hold onto. There’s even more concerns at the running back position with Jalen Richard, Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch all free agents. You could argue no team in the league needs a running back more than the Raiders. The Raiders also need something to keep fans excited as they gear up for the move to Las Vegas. Signing Bell could be a wise move on the field and for PR reasons. Nobody in Vegas will be thrilled with this team as it currently sits.
Kansas City Chefs - The Kansas City Chefs don’t have a ton of cap space and are likely focusing on defense this offseason to better position a Super Bowl run. But close your eyes and picture a fresh Bell in an Andy Reid offense with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback and all the weapons on the outside. Need a napkin? The need of a running back is there with the release of Kareem Hunt, and this KC offense would be a video game if they landed the most versatile back in the league. Money wise the Chefs could do better given the lack of wiggle room, but boy is this a signing that would scare the rest of the league.