Absolutely nothing surprises you anymore when it comes to the Patriots, so why wouldn’t they throw their hat into the ring in an attempt to land LeVeon Bell in NFL Free Agency?
No one saw Malcolm Butler getting benched in the Super Bowl coming, and no one saw the Pats ponying up all that money for Stephon Gilmore last spring coming either. Plus, there are actually a few reasons why Bell to the Patriots makes sense.
First, Bell fits the Patriots’ scheme to an absolute T.
Bill Belichick absolutely loves running backs who can also do damage in the passing game, and Bell is the most dangerous pass-catching back in the NFL. He had 655 yards receiving this past season alone, 55th in the league – all receivers included (for reference, Danny Amendola finished 54th with 659 yards catching).
Bell had an unreal 83 catches for 854 yards in 2014 and is still just 26-years-old.
The Patriots are always ahead of the curve in offensive scheming, and are the team that is always setting the trends - not reacting to them. With so much cloudiness surrounding Rob Gronkowski, the Pats may be ready to move away from having to rely so much on their big tight end and shift back into something more “Patriots traditional.”
Perhaps the Pats take a renewed interest in the running back position, and look to put an elite talent there instead of where teams have become accustomed to them having one.
Good pass-catching backs continue to succeed in the NFL, as the Patriots found out the hard way this past season. In nearly all of their losses and relatively “bad games” this past season – it was running backs doing damage in the passing game which burned them most (Corey Clement in the Super Bowl, Kenyan Drake in Miami, Kareem Hunt on opening night).
If the Patriots were to get the best pass-catching back in the league in Bell, it surely would bring their offense to an otherworldly level.
Bell does not seem like the “Patriots type” given all the chirping he did prior to the Steelers playoff loss to the Jaguars. He also reportedly showed up late for the Saturday walk-through before that game.
Things have been bumpy between Bell and the Steelers for quite some time now and it got mighty nasty last summer. Bell may well be fed up with Pittsburgh, and what better way to stick it to the Steelers front office than to jump to the Patriots ala his buddy, James Harrison.
Here is Bell giving Harrison (who was out of favor with Steelers management at the time) a touchdown tribute this past season.
On that primetime workout plan. 😏 pic.twitter.com/vFKPmG1WD7— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 30, 2017
Bell is also extremely close with former Pats back LeGarrette Blount, who still loves the Patriots organization. Bell and Blount were teammates with the Steelers several years back.
In August 2014, Bell was charged with driving under the influence of marijuana with Blount in the car. Later that season, Blount walked off the field before the end of a game and the Steelers released him. The Patriots quickly pounced and added Blount to their roster for a second time.
Do the Pats have the money?
The NFL salary cap is expected to climb yet again – but, of course, the entire rest of the league is playing by the same set of rules. According to OverTheCap.com, the Patriots have cap commitments of $162.4 million and would have about $19 million to play with when it comes to re-signing the Danny Amendolas of the world. Obviously if the Pats were looking at bringing in Bell, you can say goodbye to Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead.
Bell is looking for a boatload of guaranteed money and it’s unlikely the Patriots would be willing to dish that out.
In short, though, yes. The Patriots have the money. It would just be extremely unorthodox for them to spend it all in one spot – a spot that they haven’t valued in well over a decade.