Peter King shook up the NFL’s best fanbase on Monday night by tweeting that the Raiders might be one of the players for Le’Veon Bell if the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t give him the franchise tag. There’s no question that Le’Veon Bell is probably the NFL’s best tailback. On the field, he’s nearly unstoppable. He’s the most complete running back in the NFL, dominating as a rusher and a receiver, demonstrating incredibly patience and vision while navigating holes between tacklers. There’s absolutely no doubt that he would make the Oakland Raiders a better team, however, they might be better off without him.
The Oakland Raiders Don’t Need Le’Veon Bell
I’d guess he becomes a free agent and goes to highest bidder. Watch for Oakland. https://t.co/aGwXrtTISj
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) January 23, 2018
The Case For
In all reality, the Oakland Raiders actually kinda need a back like Bell. There’s a ton of doubt surrounding Marshawn Lynch’s status on the team, and Bell is a monster. A strong run game would only help Derek Carr return to form, and might even elevate him. Bell has had at least 600 receiving yards in three of his five seasons, and, with help from Antonio Brown, has made Ben Roethlisberger look like a good quarterback at points.
Bell is only 25 years old, and still has plenty of gas left in the tank. The trio of Derek Carr, Le’Veon Bell, and Amari Cooper could give Jon Gruden a set of triplets to play with, and the number of things they could do offensively might be unlimited. Plus! If Oakland can keep the offensive line together? Who knows what awesome things Bell could achieve in the silver and black.
The Case Against
As much as we’d all love to see Bell in the silver and black, it’s just not feasible for so many reasons. First of all, he’s already had nearly 2,000 touches between rushes and catches, and has a history of injuries. He’s suffered a Linsfranc sprain, a concussion, a hyperextended knee, groin issues, and a torn ACL.
Off The Field
He’s also missed some time with suspensions. He missed the first three games of the 2015 season because of a marijuana possession charge, and then missed another three due to violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy in 2016.
Bell has been very vocal about his contractual issues as well. He held out before the 2017 season and then during the post-season, told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that he would consider retiring or sitting out if the Steelers gave him the franchise tag this year, and then Ed Bouchette reported that he skipped all but five minutes of Pittsburgh’s walk-through before the playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not to mention he released hip hop tracks about his contractual disappointment and turned down what would’ve been the biggest contract for a tailback in the NFL.
Le’Veon Bell wants to make quarterback money and has said he’ll play for the highest bidder. Frankly, the Raiders can’t afford to be the highest bidder. Tailback is important, and the Raiders could really use a player like him, but Bell turned down a $12 million a year contract, so who knows what he’s looking for? Somebody, perhaps the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, or even the San Francisco 49ers, who all have upwards of $80 million in cap space will simply outbid Reggie McKenzie and company.
And honestly, the Raiders have bigger needs. The team needs a free safety, corner help, a linebacker, receivers, and the future of the offensive line. Frankly, tailback isn’t a position you need to pay someone over $10 million a season to do. I’d much rather see Oakland go out and get a stud corner or receiver in free agency for that kind of money.
It just doesn’t seem like a great idea to spend a ton of money on a back that can’t seem to stay on the field that isn’t completely committed to winning. Personally, I’d much rather see the Raiders draft someone like Sony Michel out of Georgia or Bryce Love out of Stanford.
Bell in Black
It would be fantastic to see Le’Veon Bell in a Raiders jersey. Maybe the Colts or Browns will draft Saquon Barkley. Maybe the 49ers believe in Carlos Hyde or Matt Breida too much to spend big money on a tailback. Perhaps Bell will hit the open market or be given the non-exclusive franchise tag, and the Raiders will get him for a reasonable price. Maybe Grudemania will really kick off and he’ll convince Reggie McKenzie to spend the extra dough. If he does, I’ll be the first person in line to buy a Raiders 26 jersey. However, I wouldn’t get my hopes up just yet.