All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers were unable to come to an agreement on a long-term contract extension prior to the July 16 deadline. Pittsburgh reportedly offered the 26-year-old star a five-year, $70 million deal, but the guaranteed portion of the contract was far less than what Bell was looking for.
Bell will now be forced to play out the 2018 NFL season on the Steelers’ franchise tag (which is valued at a guaranteed $14.5 million).The harsh reality of the situation is the 2018 season will likely be Bell’s final season playing for the Steelers — something that was recently confirmed by the former Michigan State Spartan’s agent.
Via Le’Veon Bell’s agent Adisa Bakari: “His intention was to retire as a Steeler. But now that there’s no deal, the practical reality is, this now likely will be Le’Veon’s last season as a Steeler.”
More: “It became clear the Steelers wanted to pay the position, not the player.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 16, 2018
With Bell set to hit the open market, it should come as no surprise that the oddsmakers at Sportsline have established odds on where the three-time Pro Bowler will be playing in 2019. And in their eyes, the Steelers are a 20-1 longshot to retain the talented running back. With that being said, here’s a look at the teams with the best odds at landing Bell next offseason.
Odds courtesy of Sportsline as of July 19, 2018.
Houston Texans (+800)
The Texans are in the fortunate situation of having their franchise quarterback (Deshaun Watson) locked up on a rookie deal through the 2021 season. With that being the case, they will likely have the salary cap space this coming offseason to make Bell a serious offer, despite the fact that they will likely also have to re-sign All-Pros Jadeveon Clowney and Tyrann Mathieu to hefty contracts. Out of the top contenders for his services, the Texans would give Bell the best chance at competing for a Super Bowl.
Cleveland Browns (+700)
Simply put, the Browns may be more willing to give Bell the type of contract he is looking for than any other team in the league. If rookie Nick Chubb proves to be as good as advertised, though, Cleveland won’t be interested in spending big money on another running back.
Indianapolis Colts (+500)
The Colts are currently projected to have just under $59 million in cap space in 2019, and they have a glaring hole at the running back position. You do the math.
Detroit Lions (+500)
Signing with Detroit would be a homecoming of sorts for Bell, and he would fill a need at running back that the Lions have been trying to address for years.
New York Jets (+300)
On paper, the Jets make a lot of sense for Bell. They have the money (just under $84 million in 2019 cap space) to make him a massive contract offer, and he would take a lot of pressure off the team’s promising young quarterback, Sam Darnold (the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft).
Contract and salary cap data courtesy of Spotrac.
Other notable teams:
- Buffalo Bills (12-1)
- Oakland Raiders (10-1)
- Arizona Cardinals (10-1)
Follow Jimmie on Twitter: @jimmiekaylor.