Age: 27 Height: 6-1 Weight: 225 Experience: 5 seasons
Potential Suitors: Jets, Colts, Eagles, Buccaneers, Raiders, Texans
The biggest name in the 2019 free agent class, Le’Veon Bell is, in his own words, “Free at last.” After playing the 2017 season on the franchise tag and sitting out the 2018 season because of it, Bell will finally test the open market in search of the long-term security he’s sought for years.
Bell can do anything an offense asks of him: rushing, receiving and blocking. His patience and vision with the ball in his hands are unparalleled, although aided by one of the NFL’s best offensive lines. His receiving prowess differentiates him from many running backs.
Since 2014, Bell has averaged 5.4 receptions per game. A short list of players to average fewer over than span: A.J. Green, Amari Cooper, Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Brandin Cooks, and Zach Ertz.
A first-team All-Pro in his last season in the NFL (2017), Bell has averaged more scrimmage yards per game in his first five seasons (129.0) than any player in NFL history. Brown. Sweetness. Dickerson. Barry. Emmitt. Peterson. All of them.
Far and away the best offensive skill player in this free agent class, Bell will look to make up the $14.544 million he left on the table last season.
Career: 1,541 touches, 7,996 scrimmage yards, 42 scrimmage TD
2018 Season: Did Not Play
2017 Season: 406 touches, 1,946 scrimmage yards, 11 scrimmage TD
Player Comparables: LAR Todd Gurley, ARI David Johnson, MIN Adrian Peterson (2015)
Bell hasn’t been a touchdown monster, but he averages more scrimmage yards per game than any comparable player.
Bell avoiding touches in 2018 can be seen as a positive or a negative: he limited the wear on his body but also hasn’t played football for a season.
Salary Floor: $13 million
Both Gurley and Johnson signed extensions with years remaining on their deals and without the luxury of multiple suitors. Bell getting less than Gurley would be a surprise in free agency.
Salary Ceiling: $17 million
As of his latest lyrics, Bell wants $17 million per season. Although it’s possible he gets it, the chances seem slim in the current running back market.
Bell should become the highest paid running back in the NFL this March, but the running back market can be hard to predict in the NFL.
Team Ideal: 4 years, $55.0 million, $13.75M AAV, $35M Full GTD
– Player Comparables: Todd Gurley, David Johnson, Devonta Freeman
Player Ideal: 5 years, $80.0 million, $16.0M AAV, $55M Full GTD
– Player Comparables: Gurley, Johnson, Adrian Peterson (2015)