February 20, 2019
Bryce Harper Watch
2018 2019 isn't even over yet, but there could be a new free agent to keep an eye on for Philly fans as the NFL offseason rolls along and heads toward free agency. On Wednesday, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert told reporters that the team would not be tagging running back Le'Veon Bell, meaning he will be an unrestricted free agent when the new league years starts on March 13.
Steelers are not tagging Le'Veon Bell, according to GM Kevin Colbert: "Le’Veon is still a great player. We can’t afford to use any other type of tags. Le’Veon will be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year."— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) February 20, 2019
According to Jason LaCanfora, the Eagles will be among the teams interested in acquiring Bell, who sat out the entire 2018 season after the Steelers opted to place the franchise tag on their star running back last offseason rather than negotiate a new contract. And if Howie Roseman and Co. are indeed interested in signing Bell, it's going to cost them.
Bell is Seeking a deal worth 50 million dollars in the first two years of the deal. Plenty of skepticism he will approach that number. Jets, Eagles, Bucs could be among the teams involved— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) February 20, 2019
That's a lot of money, even for a guy who has recorded 3,830 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns over his two most recent seasons. And when you consider what James Conner was able to do in his place last year, it's fair to wonder if Bell is worth all that money. Sure, he'll be the most talented running back available this offseason, but is that difference in talent worth the difference in price, especially given the trend away from heavy rushing attacks? Of course, Bell is a skilled receiver out of the backfield and can block as well, so he'd fit no matter the scheme, but again, it becomes a cost/benefit analysis for any of the teams that can afford him.
With Jay Ajayi headed for free agency and Darren Sproles possibly set on retiring, the Eagles could be left with Corey Clement and not much else at running back heading into the 2019 season, so at least on paper Bell would make sense for the Eagles.
However, paper may be the exact issue when it comes to the Eagles' rumored interest in Bell. Namely, they can't afford him. Not even close.
If Bell is looking at somewhere near $25 million per year for each of his first two seasons with his new team, the Eagles would need to do a lot of trimming this season, more than even the $20 million they'll save by letting Nick Foles walk. (Needless to say, franchising Foles completely shuts the door on this as a possibility.)
The Eagles currently have needs to fill elsewhere, and given their unfriendly cap situation, spending that percentage of their space on a running back doesn't make a whole lot of sense. This team has already proven that it doesn't need an All-Pro back to win. It won a Super Bowl going with running-back-by-committee and was able to win a playoff game this year (and nearly a second) with Josh Adams, Wendell Smallwood and a banged-up Sproles.
Could Roseman make it work? Theoretically, yes. Should he? Well, that's a much more complicated answer, one that would be dependent on the corresponding moves needed to make room for Bell.
Will he? I certainly wouldn't put it past him, but a lot needs to happen first.
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