Leveon Bell has had enough. On Monday he communicated that much with the Steelers through his agent who said this will likely be Bells last year in Pittsburgh. The news isn’t much of a shock, for three years Bell has had a contract power struggle, and for three years neither side has budged. It now seems that both sides have reached a breaking point though. Bell’s tone in several tweets after the news made it sound like he would not be holding out this year and would participate in all offseason activities starting with training camp. What’s next for both sides though? Let’s jump back into one of my favorite articles to write, NFL crystal ball!
Let’s say the Steelers and Bell are done. No contract gets worked out and bye bye goes Bell. What’s the course of action? Well in this case I say trade. First off how much would Bell fetch in a trade? Certainly a quality first round pick or two and a decent running back. Let’s quickly eliminate some teams the Steelers would avoid trading with. Anyone in the AFC North. The Browns might be the exception if they start slow again and look like they’ll have a top ten draft pick. The Bengals and Ravens have nothing to offer the Steelers though and you don’t want the balance of power to shift immediately in the division if either of those teams, especially the Ravens, got Bell it would. Then you have to rule out the Patriots of course. No way the Steelers want to give them more Ammo unless they were offered Gronk in return there is almost no way I see a deal getting done there. Then you look at the AFC South, not a whole lot of trade partners down there, maybe the Colts if they were willing to sell the future but they aren’t built to be one piece away from a ring right now. The AFC West, maybe the Broncos but they would have to give up a lot, like a first-round pick plus three to four second or third rounders to make anything work. The NFC East is set at running back. So is the NFC South and so the Steelers trade options come down to these four options in my opinion.
1. The Seahawks: If they really want to commit to this rebuild thing they go like for like trade, Earl Thomas for Leveon Bell. Give the Seahawks a solid running game and they are right back in contention for the playoffs. Meanwhile the Steelers fill a major hole on there defense with one of the best safeties in the leauge.
2. The Lions: I believe Detroit is truly a run game away from being one of the best offenses in the league. Bell would be able to give them that and then some. They would have to trade back young prospect Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount plus a first and a second to make this deal work, but it could be figured out. The Lions haven’t had an elite runner since Barry Sanders and Bell would fix that immediately.
3. The Vikings: A like for like running back trade. Dalvin Cook, plus a second or third rounder for security, for Leveon Bell straight up. It gives both sides what they want. For the Steelers a contract they won’t have to worry about for two years on a very talented young back and for the Vikings the last piece to an offense that would make them the prohibitive favorites in the NFC.
4. The Packers: It’s what keeps Aaron Rodgers around, an elite back, something Rodgers hasn’t had since Eddie Lacy’s rookie year. The Packers have two first rounders this year and they either trade both firsts or the higher one and Aaron Jones plus other assorted draft picks for Bell. It would be a win now move for the Packers whose cap space will be tight after a Rodgers extension. However, the window the Packers have is now and if they want to capitalize they have to take a risk.
If the Steelers move Bell I would expect it to be somewhere between week four and the deadline so they can see the trend of what the best-looking draft pick for them will be. Or the Steelers will keep Bell and see if he produces his best season yet as he’s promised and perhaps before he leaves, he takes them to the promise land.