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Sorting through the noise on a potential Le’Veon Bell trade

There has been a lot of misinformation about the possibility of a Le’Veon Bell trade over the past few weeks. Many so called “experts” digging in their heels about the fact it will never happen. In fact, a trade is very likely to happen in my opinion. The only real obstacle is Le’Veon Bell himself. He holds all the cards in a potential trade scenario. Here are the facts of what exactly it would take to get a deal done:

IT’S ALL UP TO LE’VEON BELL:

First and foremost, no deal can happen unless Bell signs his franchise tender. NFL rules state teams can not trade players who are not under contract. In short, Le’veon Bell is not getting traded unless he wants to. If he decides that he’d like to be moved, it will happen very quickly.

WHY WOULD BELL AGREE TO A TRADE:

At this point we are all aware that Bell can not sign a new long term contract with any team in the NFL right now. What teams, including the Steelers, can do is negotiate his 2018 salary up. Basically, a team can pay Bell more than the $14.5 million he was set to earn under the franchise tag this season. At the very least, teams can choose to reimburse what Bell has already lost by not reporting to the Steelers. That alone would be a very strong incentive for Le’Veon to want to join another team. Especially given the fact there is no way on earth the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to give him one extra cent. There’s also the possibility Bell wants no part of returning to this locker room. After how his teammates reacted when they learned Bell would not report, it wouldn’t be shocking if he never wanted to play with this team again.

DON’T BELIEVE THE “TEAMS HAVE NO SALARY CAP SPACE” NARRATIVE:

Right now there at least 8 teams that could fit Bell’s entire salary still owed to him as of missing the Buccaneers game. That includes the New York Jets, who have been rumored to have shown interest in the Steelers’ back. That’s not even including teams that could renegotiate contracts to free up enough money. Teams could also trade some salary back to the Steelers in the form of a player in order to make the necessary room. Long story short, cap space is not an issue.

WHY WOULD A TEAM WANT BELL FOR ONLY A PARTIAL SEASON:

This narrative is particularly annoying to me. What team wouldn’t want the best running back in football for a playoff run? Are we seriously asking this question? There are probably a half a dozen teams minimum who think they are one offensive weapon away from making a run. The fact is Le’Veon Bell makes your offense considerably better the minute he walks through the door, and every team in the league knows it.

THE STEELERS WILL NOT GET ANY OFFER GOOD ENOUGH TO MOVE BELL:

This sounds very, very familiar to me. The Pittsburgh media went on and on about how the Steelers were stuck with Martavis Bryant. It was said the team would never get anything close to a good enough deal to move him. Anybody remember that? I do. What happened was the Steelers got offered a third round pick, and they immediately traded him. Imagine that. The point to all this is simple, it only takes one team. One team to think “this guy is the missing piece for us”, and just like that a deal is done. As it stands right now, Pittsburgh will receive a third round pick in 2019 as compensation if Bell leaves as a free agent. So it stands to reason that the team would want better, or at least equal, to that to make a deal. Here’s the point many are missing. Any team that acquires Bell s gets that same third round pick if they can’t resign him. So how outrageous would it be to offer a first or second round pick for ten games of Le’veon Bell and a future third rounder? That seems like a no-brainer to me. You also must consider that team would have exclusive negotiating rights with Bell until the deadline for the franchise tag.

Taking all this into consideration, it is much more likely that Le’veon Bell gets traded than most would have you believe. We now know that the Steelers want it. The only thing standing in the way is Le’Veon Bell. If Bell decides that he will in fact play football in 2018, it probably won’t be in Pittsburgh. Don’t let anyone else convince you otherwise.

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