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Rumor Mill 3: For Whom the Bell Tolls

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Le’Veon Bell has been linked to the Baltimore Ravens.

Admittedly, Bell is a longshot to join his former division-rival in the Ravens. However, individuals such as Colin Cowherd think Bell will stay inside the AFC North with a move from the black and yellow to the purple and gold.

While Bell may look to sign with the New York Jets or the Indianapolis Colts, or a team with a lot of cap space, he could also walk into a large role as a Raven. Bell would certainly be the best running back that the Ravens have had since Ray Rice, or even as far back as the likes of Willis McGahee and Jamal Lewis. However, many Ravens fans question if Bell is worth the giant contract he wants.

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And due to the mess surrounding Pittsburgh right now, many outsiders look at the situation as a cancerous pit of despair with two of the best Steelers wanting out. Bell, however, did not necessarily want out of Pittsburgh. He simply wanted to be the highest paid running back in the NFL by a significant margin.

While he may or may not get that this off-season, he certainly is one of the best running backs of the past decade. Bell would be worth No. 1 running back money, but perhaps not quite the money that he wants to earn in free agency.

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Although the chance that Bell joins the Ravens this offseason is slim, the Ravens could certainly use the boost and added talent as the Ravens haven’t had an All-Pro skill position player since Vonta Leach during the 2012 season. In the history of the Ravens, they have had one All-Pro running back (Jamal Lewis, 2003). Other All-Pros in Leach and Le’Ron McClain won the honor as fullbacks.

The addition of Bell would be a shift from a committee approach to the running back position into the full explosion of Bell as a true bell-cow back.

Over the course of Bell’s career, he has accumulated a stat line of 5,336 yards rushing and 35 rushing touchdowns. Despite missing the entirety of the 2018 season due to a contract holdout and missing time with a variety of injuries over the course of his career, Bell is a relatively-hot commodity entering the 2019 off-season.

In his last full season of play, Bell was a Pro Bowler and All-Pro for the Steelers. Bell has posted three seasons with more than 1,000 yards on the ground, including nearly 1,300 yards in each of the last two seasons that he appeared in.

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While missing the entire 2018 season may be alarming, Bell’s most recent return to football (after a 2015 ACL tear) resulted in him rushing for nearly 1,300 yards in just 12 games after serving a suspension. Bell, who just turned 27, has also been effective in the playoffs, recording a pair of 160-yard performances and four total touchdowns in four games.

While Bell has missed a severe amount of time in his six seasons in the NFL, only playing 62 of a maximum 96 games, he certainly has as much talent as any running back in the league.

Bell has also been exceptional in being a receiver out of the backfield, registering 80 catches in two different seasons and 75 back in 2016. If the Ravens were to land Bell, he could be a three-down back and be incredibly productive for one of the best rushing offenses in recent history.

The odds of Bell joining the Ravens certainly decrease simply due to the fact that he has played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but if the opportunity arose, the Ravens and Bell could work together.

Over the course of nine career games against the Ravens, Bell has registered four-and-a-half yards per attempt and 10 total touchdowns. He has also recorded three 100-yard games against Baltimore, including a 144-yard performance in a 2017 game.

While Bell has missed a significant number of Ravens-Steelers battles, he has been productive enough to help the Steelers to a five-and-four record against Baltimore when he is in the lineup.

While the cross-division connection may not occur, the Ravens should certainly look into acquiring the services of the two-time All-Pro.


For more analysis of the Ravens’ current running back situation, check out Ryan’s recent article discussing the potential acquisition of Mark Ingram.

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