The deadline to sign Le’veon Bell has come and gone for the Pittsburgh Steelers. It is now highly unlikely that he will play another game for the team beyond the 2018 season. After two long years of negotiations, it’s hard to imagine the two sides reaching a deal when they can resume talking in early 2019. That being the case, here are the early favorites to land Bell when he hits free agency.
5. San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers won’t have nearly as much cap space as they did in 2018, but there’s still room to add Bell. John Lynch has been aggressive in his short stint as general manager, so signing Bell would be no surprise. Adding a franchise running back to help young quarterback Jimmy Garappolo makes all the sense in the world. San Francisco did just sign Jerick MicKinnon to a large free agent contract. However the deal is heavily front loaded, and easy to get out of in 2019 if they choose to do so.
4. Indianapolis Colts: The Colts are another team with a franchise quarterback in need of a steady running game. In this case Indianapolis will be loaded with cap space come free agency next year. A healthy Andrew Luck with Le’veon Bell and TY Hilton makes for a formidable offense. If it’s all about money for Bell, there will be few teams that can afford to offer more.
3. Houston Texans: This is the spot where things get very interesting. Deshaun Watson appears to be the real deal after the flashes he showed in his rookie season. The Texans also already have one of the best wide receivers in the game in DeAndre Hopkins. Add Bell to this mix, and might we see the 30 points a game we were always promised here in Pittsburgh? Houston has a whopping $60 million in cap space on the books for 2019 to play with, so money won’t be an issue. This has to be one of the more attractive places for Le’veon Bell.
2. Oakland/ Las Vegas Raiders: We all know the Raiders love star offensive players. We also know John Gruden is not going to patiently build a team through the draft. He wants to win, and win now. One of the Raiders biggest weaknesses over the past few years is running back, so the fit is there. Oakland has some decent cap space coming up, but they do need to get Khalil Mack signed before they can look to free agency. As far as Bell is concerned, who wouldn’t want to be in Vegas with a brand new multi-million dollar contract in hand.
1. New York Jets: I’m making the Jets. The favorite to land Bell for several reasons. First of all it’s New York. Where better to promote his rap career than the biggest city in the world. There’s also that little issue of money, which the Jets have plenty of to spend. As it stands now, they have roughly $84 million in cap space, tops in the league. The downside of course is the team is terrible. They do have a new potential star quarterback in first round pick Sam Darnold, and plenty of money to add more pieces. If I were a betting man, I’d say Le’veon Bell will be wearing green and white come next season.