- Le’Veon Bell did not report to the Steelers by Tuesday’s deadline.
- The All-Pro RB is now ineligible to play this year.
- Online betting sites are already looking towards next year with a futures bet on Bell’s 2019 team.
Le’Veon Bell had until 4:00 PM ET on Tuesday to report to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ facilities. He didn’t. That means Bell is officially ineligible to return during the 2018 NFL season and has forfeited his entire $14.5 million salary.
It’s over. Le’Veon Bell doesn’t report, forfeits 2018 season and $14.5 million in salary. Career in Pittsburgh likely over. https://t.co/RramG4GEl8
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) November 13, 2018
Odds on Le’Veon Bell’s team in 2019
|What team will Le’Veon Bell be on in Week 1 of 2019?||Odds|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+700|
|Green Bay Packers||+750|
|San Francisco 49ers||+900|
|New England Patriots||+3300|
The Jets are the early favorites to sign Le’Veon Bell
As you can see, the Jets are the early favorite to land Bell, who will almost certainly become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
New York makes sense as a landing spot for the two-time All Pro for many, many reasons: The Jets will have a ton of cap space. They will want to give then-second-year QB Sam Darnold all the weapons he can get. They currently have arguably the worst group of skill-position players outside of Buffalo. And they will likely have a new, more offensively-minded head coach looking to completely revamp the attack.
Many pundits agree that it would be a perfect marriage, at least on paper.
Looking ahead to Le’Veon Bell’s future, I keep coming back to one team as an ideal suitor: the Jets. pic.twitter.com/GryObiTmxG
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 13, 2018
Without getting into whether the Jets are good value at +300 (which has a 25% implied probability), there’s at least one number up there that is patently ridiculous.
The Steelers are longshots, but not long enough
I usually love betting incumbents in free-agent scenarios, but do not bet on the Steelers at +1600 (5.9% probability).
To start with, the relationship between Bell and every facet of the Pittsburgh franchise has soured like kimchi. He’s already wiped all mention of the Steelers from his Twitter bio.
A look at the new and old bio identifier on Le’Veon Bell’s Twitter account. He’s now an “All Pro NFL Running Back” instead of “Running Back, Pittsburgh Steelers.” pic.twitter.com/kuKKPItkGl
— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) November 8, 2018
Second, given the amount of money a desperate team like the Jets, Raiders, or Bucs are going to throw at Bell this offseason, there’s about a 0.1% chance he winds up back in Pittsburgh. The one thing that the Steelers’ brass has learned in his absence is that they don’t need him. James Connor (771 rushing yards, 387 receiving yards, 11 total TDs) is having a Pro Bowl season and is under contract through 2020. As a team, the Steelers are 6-2-1, have a 1.5-game lead in the AFC North, and currently hold the #2-seed in the conference.
There is no way they’ll be clamoring to spend anywhere near $15 million on a disgruntled soon-to-be 27-year-old in the offseason.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.