PITTSBURGH (FFD) - The Steelers should cut running back Le’Veon Bell, save money, and go on their merry way. Run with James Connor as their runner. Yes, sounds idiotic, but hear me out.
Bell is extremely talented and one of the best in the NFL. Nonetheless, Le’Veon Bell is toxic to he Steelers organization and there comes a time when you must ask yourself - how good can Le’Veon Bell be this year if in his heart he either doesn’t want to play because he feels undervalued, or he fears he may get hurt running the football, not just 20 times a game, but even 10 times, and thus shortchange the bank he hopes to make by inking a whopper of a contract next year?
Of course the first thing the Steelers should do is see if they can trade Dumb Bell by the upcoming deadline. Trading Le’Veon Bell could make sense for the right team.
The Philadelphia Eagles are a good fit for Le’Veon Bell. They have the cap room and why not give up a future pick and cash in on a Super Bowl while you know you have a roster capable of winning one now?
Trading Le’Veon Bell is problematic though because he still has to sign with the Steelers first. After he signs the franchise tender offer he can then be shipped off to another team. The downside to any buyers is he becomes their short term rental until a new deal can be hatched with them. Teams should take note on how Le’Veon Bell likes to negotiate: float rumors he will do one thing, and then do nothing.
I have heard many people state that if Bell comes back then the Steelers should bench James Connor. Alternatively, some have called for a scheme where both Bell and Connor are both on the field. Yes, it would be tantalizing to think of Antonio Brown at wide-out, JuJu Smith-Schuster as the chain mover, Connor as the bowling ball, and Le’Veon Bell as the wild card that brings it all together.
That scenario will not happen. It is more likely, Bell, if he signed, would supplant Connor and Connor would go to the bench. That is a bad idea for several reasons.
First, Bell will not be in shape, having missed camp. Who knows what sort of regimen he followed down in Miami on the waterfront.
We all know his penchant for cannabis. It took him a month to gain form last year. How much longer will it take this year? We can assume at least a month, but this time he missed more football than he normally misses. Second, what does his current approach to winning a long term contract say about his commitment to the team?
Does he want to be part of a Super Bowl run? Does he care how the Steelers will do long term? Chances are, no.
The playoffs are nothing but a health risk to him and he will earn, like most players, very little money compared to the regular season. We also have to think about what will this diva do to team morale?
Big Ben Roethlisberger, in his famous passive aggressive fashion, seems to be clamoring for parting ways with Bell. He made comments after the Steelers most recent game about having to put Connor back in the box once Bell comes back. The offensive line seems to not be a fan of Le’Veon either. They have tweeted as much.
Plus, the Steelers need a long term running back. Bell, even if he plays this year, is gone when the season is over. He should be gone now.
Making this decision easier is that James Connor is putting up decent numbers.
James Connor versus Le’Veon Bell
James Connor may not be an elite back like Bell, but Connor has more of the character and work ethic of a player that will put his team first. Of course that might change if he turns out to be equally as a good as Bell one day.
Team first guys are crucial to championship teams. I would argue that a lack of such characters is why the Steelers can’t get past the Patriots and have come up short in the playoffs since 2009. Team first guys like James Connor can add that character. On a lesser note, the Bengals can’t beat the Steelers for the very same reason the Steelers can’t get over the hump with the Patriots.
On a more tangible level, how valuable is Bell to begin with? After all, he is only the third most valuable player on the Steelers, while he acts like he is the one of the top five players in the league. That is simply not the case.
The NFL is a WiFi League
The NFL is a quarterback receiver “WiFi” league. Elite backs, while certainly formidable and part of any Super Bowl winning equation, are not as critical as having a franchise QB and a top tier receiver that can put up big numbers.
Big Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are far more valuable pieces for the Steelers than Le’Veon Bell. A serviceable running back is an easier fill than the other types.
What is to be done with Le’Veon Bell?
From the get go Bell has misplayed and bungled this whole holdout. It is time for the Steelers to move on from Le’Veon Bell. It is time to wish Le’Veon Bell much luck with the next team he screws over.
He has given up millions already and for what? A chance to play healthy next year? I still can’t see why he wouldn’t take his approximately 15 million this year and play it out. Oh, he is afraid of injuring himself. He might have to carry the ball too much. What are the Steelers supposed to do, limit how much he carries the football. What will other teams do in that regards?
Good luck to any NFL franchise on finishing out the second half of the 2018 season with a guy that is hesitant to play football at full speed and under fear of injury until he signs the big one.
There is only one thing that should be done at full speed now. Trade or cut Le’Veon Bell, open holes and let James Connor carry the ball through them.