Disgruntled running back Le’Veon Bell was released by the New York Jets this Tuesday, and the football world is curious as to where the former All-Pro will sign.
He was a superstar while with the Steelers from 2013-17, making three Pro Bowls and twice being on the first team All-Pro. After sitting out of the 2018 season due to a contract dispute, he signed with the Jets. Since joining New York, he has been a shell of his former self, and was finally released on Tuesday.
The Bears are possible suitors to acquire Bell, as they recently lost running back Tarik Cohen to injury. Chicago has yet to sign or trade for a serious replacement for Cohen.
Bell could potentially fill Cohen’s role on Chicago, but his statistics in the past few years have been mediocre. This raises the question: should the Bears sign Le’Veon Bell?
Bell’s recent history
Since joining the Jets in 2019, Bell has not nearly lived up to expectations. With New York, he has 3.3 yards per carry, 2nd worst among qualified running backs. He also has 7.2 yards per reception, 7th worst among qualified players.
Some fault for these atrocious statistics falls on the Jets porous offensive line and the failure of head coach Adam Gase, but Bell himself is not blameless. Since joining the New York, he has 110 rushing yards below expectation, 4th worst in the NFL.
It is quite possible that Bell could put up respectable numbers in an offense better than the Jets. He had the 14th best Pro Football Focus grade among running backs in his first year after the Jets, even after sitting out the 2018 season.
Even though the Bears don’t have a top-tier offense by any means, it is better than the Jets. Signing Le’Veon Bell could potentially improve the offense and improve Bell’s statistics.
Bell seems to be motivated to start over, saying on Twitter “[I’ve] got a lot to prove. i’m ready to go.” Bell could be a dangerous player if he keeps that mentality and shows it on the field.
got a lot to prove. i’m ready to go. pic.twitter.com/oDqBM62JfN
— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) October 14, 2020
How Bell would fit in with the Bears
Bell has not lived up to his superstar reputation since joining the Jets, making some teams hesitant to sign him. However, acquiring Bell comes at low risk and low cost. The Jets paid the $2.5 million bonus that they owed him, and took care of his $6 million remaining prorated salary. This means that teams could sign Bell for the league minimum.
Because of Bell’s financial situation, the Bears are an obvious candidate. They are in the middle of contract extension discussions with wide receiver Allen Robinson, and do not want to spend too much money elsewhere.
Bell also fits in with the Bears as a replacement for Tarik Cohen. Cohen tore his ACL earlier in the season, and someone has to fill his pass catching role on the team. As of now, they are relying on starting back David Montgomery and backups Cordarrelle Patterson and Ryan Nall to fill that void. However, Montgomery is not as much of a threat catching the ball out of the backfield.
By signing Bell, Chicago would find a player who can take over Tarik Cohen’s pass catching duties. He also comes with low risk and at a low price. He would also most likely be a better player in Chicago’s offense. Therefore, the Bears should sign Le’Veon Bell.