Running back Le’Veon Bell is now a free agent after the New York Jets released him on Tuesday night. The decision to release Bell comes after the Jets tried to trade him but could not find any takers.
The Eagles, and 30 other teams, electing not to trade for Bell makes sense. He had a base salary of $8.5 million for the 2020 season. That is a lot of a running back who has been average for the last year-plus.
Now a free agent, the Eagles have to decide if they want to try to sign Bell to a more team-friendly deal.
That answer should be no.
Once one of the best running backs in the league, Bell was a disaster with the Jets, averaging only 3.3 yards-per-carry and 5.0 yards-per-touch overall. There is no question part of that is due to playing for the disaster that is Adam Gase as a head coach. Bell has also struggled to stay healthy, however, missing three games this year due to a hamstring injury. It is possible that with a change of scenery Bell could turn things around, but any team bringing in Bell is also running the risk of him simply being washed up.
There is also the question of how Bell would fit in the offense. Two years ago, when Bell was on the trade block, going after him made sense. That was before the team used a second-round pick on Miles Sanders, who has proven to be an elite-level back in all three phases of the game — running, catching and pass blocking. Sanders needs to remain the No. 1 option at running back. Bringing in Bell, and taking away touches from Sanders, wouldn’t make sense.
It is also a safe bet that Bell wouldn’t be happy coming into a situation where he would be behind Sanders on the depth chart and splitting touches. Bell is likely going to be looking for a situation where he can be the top running back. That won’t be happening in Philadelphia.
There is also the financial risk of bringing in Bell. The Eagles have $16 million in cap space right now, but are projected to be $68 million over the cap next season. Assuming he has multiple suitors, Bell might command a few millions dollars this season. The Eagles need to be very careful with how they hand out money right now, and giving Bell a deal to be a backup running back feels like a bad use of resources.
If Bell was happy being a backup and would sign for the veteran minimum, perhaps it would make sense and be a risk worth taking. The Eagles’ backup running backs have not been good this season, and Bell would be a clear upgrade over both Boston Scott and Corey Clement.
But the chances of Bell being happy as a backup are slim, and with bigger needs on the roster, the Eagles would be wise to pass on the potential of being able to bring in the veteran running back.
You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org!