Not too long ago running back Le’Veon Bell was considered one of the top offensive weapons in football. In 2014, 2016, and 2017, all with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell rushed for over 1,000 yards with over 600 receiving yards. He saw more than 250 carries and almost 100 targets during each campaign as well. But all of that seems so long ago.
Since then, Bell has sat out an entire season due to a contract dispute (2018), signed with the New York Jets (2019), and has looked nothing like the Bell our fantasy football championships remember.
Whose fault is that? Is it Bell’s? Is it the Jets'? Well, we’re about to find out, because Bell isn’t with New York anymore. After about a year and a quarter of a season with the tumultuous Jets, tensions between Bell and his current team (mainly head coach Adam Gase) boiled over to the franchise releasing Bell, despite having to take on big dead cap penalties. After about 245 hours of waiting, Bell signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.
It was reported that the two most important factors for Bell in his decision were a prominent role in the offense and the chance to win a championship. He will get both of those in Kansas City. Even with rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire as the solidified starter, the Chiefs were in need of a rotational back who can bring them plus attributes in the passing game and become a featured back if something were to happen to Edwards-Helaire. The Chiefs currently sit at 4-1 and are 13th in the league in rushing with 119 yards per game and 10th in the league with an average of 4.5 yards per carry. However, since Edwards-Helaire’s 138 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, they have yet to score on the ground.
For as much as Bell struggled last season, he continued his streak of catching at least 65 passes in any year he’s played at least 12 games since his rookie season. This is important for his fit with the Chiefs. When Damien Williams opted out before the season due to COVID-19 concerns, Kansas City knew it’d be thin at running back. Bell is truly the best-case scenario. Williams saw 37 targets in 11 games in the regular season last year and an additional 20 targets in the Chiefs’ three playoff games. That’s another aspect of Kansas City’s long-term goals that Bell can fit right into. He has playoff experience. Bell has four games of playoff experience under his belt, but even more so than that, played on successful Steelers’ teams, two of which finished 11-5 and one 13-3.
ESPN’s Bill Barwell also noted that for as good as Edwards-Helaire has been for a rookie, he is still a rookie, and though crunch time situations seem to be where Edwards-Helaire is still learning, they are where Bell thrives.
“Edwards-Helaire has had impressive moments during his first five weeks, but he has struggled in the red zone, failing to score once on seven touches inside the five-yard line,” Barnwell noted.
Head coach Andy Reid knows how to get the most out of good talent. He has shown that over a career where he’s had plenty of success, and he might be doing that better than ever right now. Bell can be a very solid option for the Chiefs as a change of pace player, a red-zone specialist, a pass game pro, and a potential feature in the future and during their playoff run.
Simply put: This was the best possible landing spot for Bell, and it is a union that will make both better in the long run.