Week 3 of the NFL season has just finished up and there’s still no sign of running back Le’Veon Bell returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In fact, news broke over the weekend that the Pittsburgh Steelers were now fielding phone calls for trade offers on Bell. As for the team itself, they went out on Monday Night Football and beat the 2-0 Tampa Bay Buccaneers by scoring 30 points in the first half and holding on in the second half for a 30-27 win. This was the Steelers first victory of the season, which quiets the need for a returning Bell and lends more credibility to the reports that the team is open to trade offers.
Potential Trade Hurdles
On Monday, September 24th, multiple sources reported that the New York Jets were one of the teams to contact the Steelers about a potential trade. It sounds great for the Steelers to try and recoup something, but getting a deal done might actually be harder than it appears on the surface.
For starters, Pittsburgh will want at least a 2nd round pick for Bell. As of now, if Bell walks in the offseason, the Steelers will most likely get a 3rd round compensatory pick in the 2020 draft. Perhaps, the Steelers can negotiate a pick in 2019 and a pick in 2020.
For the interested team, they will need to have the extra draft picks and the extra cap space for Bell. Le’Veon will cost roughly $855K per week for the rest of the year. So, if a team does get Bell, they will still have him for roughly half of the season depending on when their bye week was. The October 30th trade deadline lands in Week 9 of the NFL season.
With 8 games left, the interested team will have to pay at least $7 million for Bell. You can bet that the trade partner will want Bell to sign a long term contract before they give up the draft capital and the money. Nobody wants to rent Bell for half of the year, this isn’t the NBA.
Betting Odds on Le’Veon Bell Trade
With all of the speculations over where Bell will end up, online sportsbooks have listed odds on Le’Veon’s future. According to MyBookie, the following teams are odds on favorites for landing Le’Veon Bell following the October 30th, NFL trade deadline:
- Pittsburgh +150
- Indianapolis +500
- Green Bay +500
- Does Not Play +500
- Tennessee +600
- Houston Texans +600
- San Francisco 49ers +700
- Dallas Cowboys+700
- New York Jets +800
- Seattle Seahawks +800
- Washington Redskins +800
- Any Other Team (The Field) +800
- Arizona Cardinals +1000
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers +1000
- Cleveland Browns +1000
The Favorites to Land Le’Veon
The following teams are the odds on favorite to have Bell on their roster after the October 30th trade deadline:
It’s easy to see why the Steelers would be the betting favorite for where Le’Veon Bell ends up following the trade deadline. It’s almost a guarantee that the Steelers will get a 3rd round compensatory pick in 2020 due to the perceived loss of Bell and the inability to sign anyone that is worth more than Le’Veon. With that said, Pittsburgh doesn’t have to take anything less than a 3rd from other teams.
But, after two years of contractual issues, and Bell still currently holding out, the Steelers might not have the patience to endure any further drama over Le’Veon.
The Colts do not have a franchise running back and haven’t even been able to replace the departed Frank Gore. Despite Gore’s age, he still provided some semblance of a rushing attack. Currently, the Colts have a running back by committee approach. Mack was supposed to lead the charge, but he’s been battling injuries and didn’t look explosive in his one appearance this season. There’s really nobody else on the Colts that strikes any fear into the hearts of opposing defenses. Getting Bell would be a huge upgrade to the Colts offense and a move that would instantly put them in contention for the AFC South division. Franchise QB Andrew Luck, an improved defense, and other key offensive weapons could appeal to Bell especially if the team pays him what he wants.
Green Bay +500
The Packers would become an instant NFC Conference Champion contender if they got Bell. In fact, I would think their improved odds would make them the favorites to win the Super Bowl. Just imagine that offense with a legitimate running threat to go along with Aaron Rodgers and the explosive passing game. The Packers offense would become the most explosive in the league. And that’s saying a lot considering how fantastic the Chiefs and Rams offenses look so far. But, does Green Bay have enough draft capital and salary space to take on a massive contract like this? They just made Aaron Rodgers the highest paid QB in the NFL.
Does Not Play +500
Stay away from this option. There’s no possible way that Bell doesn’t play on a team this year. At the very least, he would return to the Steelers in Week 9 that way he can still get an accrued year of playing and become a free agent next year. If he doesn’t play this season at all, then he will still be in the same situation next year, as he is now. And, I doubt that either side of this equation will want this contractual headache for a third straight year.
The Betting Value
The following two options provide great value for this Le’Veon Bell prop bet:
New York Jets +800
I really like the Jets as an option. And, I liked them well before they contacted the Steelers over the last 24 hours. I believe the Jets have the draft picks, salary space and the desire to trade for Bell and to pay him what he wants. The Jets are in a big market that could also appeal to Bell who may be in line for potential off-field opportunities. New York has improved their defense and have a rookie QB who appears to be the franchise savior. These things will also appeal to Bell who probably wants to go to a team that he has a shot at winning.
Any Other Team +800
I really like this prop bet option as well. MyBookie listed 12 teams that could land Bell. That leaves 20 teams that fit into this betting option. With that in mind, here are a few teams that I could easily see being interested in Bell:
- Raiders – Gruden would love to pair an elite running back with Carr and the other offensive weapons.
- Denver – the Broncos do have some young backs, but getting Bell would instantly improve this offense and make Denver a legit playoff contender again.
- Buffalo – don’t laugh at this one, but the Bills will have a ton of money in salary space going into next year. Additionally, their current top back McCoy has a bunch of off-field problems and is 30 years old. Although he looks in good shape on the field, Buffalo could look to get a younger, franchise RB to pair with their franchise QB in Josh Allen. Bills could trade McCoy to a playoff contender, get some draft picks and salary space to go after Bell.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at +1000 is a solid longshot pick for potential landing spots. They have an explosive offense that has lit up the NFL so far. However, they’re missing a consistent running game and have yet to really establish any success on the ground. The majority of their points and yards have come via FitzMagic through the air. The Bucs could add Bell to their offense and turn this team into a legit playoff contender. Something they haven’t been in a while. But, would Bell agree to a long term deal with Tampa? Especially with their franchise QB having too many off the field issues.
Where Will Le’Veon Bell be in Week 9?
Teams that you can rule out will be: Tennessee, Arizona, and Dallas. These three teams already have established running backs. Houston also has a good back, but they just lack consistency right now. The 49ers brought it McKinnon, but lost him and now Jimmy G. to torn ACLs. Seattle has two young backs, Cleveland has three backs including Hyde and Chubb, and Washington has Juice although he’s coming off a torn ACL. Washington also has Adrian Peterson who is turning back the hands of time and leading this backfield in production. He’s 5th in the league in rushing yards and he’s a lot cheaper.
Bell will more than likely return to the Steelers as I don’t think that many teams will offer what Pittsburgh is looking for. Furthermore, there’s a lot of playing time between now and the trade deadline. Injuries could ravage the Steelers backfield and they could be forced to bring Bell back at his demands.
If a trade does happen, I look for the Jets, Raiders, Colts, and Bucs to be serious options whether we hear about it or not. Of these teams, I really think the Jets have to be the favorites. However, watch out for the Colts who would be wise to make a move for Bell.
The smart play is on the Steelers, but I do like the Jets and Bucs wagers as well.