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Why the Colts Should Investigate a Trade for Le’Veon Bell

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Divisional Round - Jacksonville Jaguars v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

As tension rises with between Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers, the Colts find themselves in an interesting position. They have a dynamic new head coach who has proven the ability to game plan and utilize the run game. They have a quarterback who is healthy and has the potential to be a top 5 QB in the league, and they have a standout wide receiver in T.Y. Hilton.

On the offensive side of the ball, they have a lot going for them. What they don’t have is a proven talent at the running back position. While there is a ton of potential for guys like Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, and Jordan Wilkins, they are unknowns at this point. Mack spent his whole first season playing with a torn labrum. The other two are rookies and it is simply unknown what they have to offer. The most proven back, Robert Turbin, is facing a 4-game suspension.

Given that information, it would make sense for the Colts to get on the phone and ask some questions of the Steelers. In case you haven’t seen the latest, here is how things stand with Bell:

While that accurately seems like Bell wants a ton of money, it isn’t unreasonable for him to think he’s earned it. In his time with the Steelers, Bell has averaged 1067 yards per season, 7 rushing touchdowns, 1.4 receiving touchdowns, and 1,599 yards from scrimmage. Part of me thinks that while that is impressive, it doesn’t totally seem like production that is worth the kind of money he is asking for.

That is until you realize that he tore his MCL and missed 10 games in 2015, which drags his average way down. When you pull out that season, his lowest production took place his rookie year, where he only accounted for 1,259 yards from scrimmage and 8 touchdowns. Know how many times T.Y. Hilton has had 8 touchdowns? If you guessed zero, you’d be correct. As a combination receiver/running back, there isn’t a player in the NFL that is as dangerous as Le’Veon Bell has been.

There are several issues here, not the least of which is that given his actions and the emphasis he has placed on both youth and the delicate balance in the locker room, I’m not sure Chris Ballard ever really seriously considers any kind of trade for Bell. His acquisition would immediately make him the second highest player on the team, which could cause problems. Additionally, Bell is 26 years old and has been used heavily. That means that in terms of expectations as a runner, he is at the peak, or possibly even past it.

Backs don’t have a great history beyond that age, and while Bell could still be very valuable for the next 3-4 years as a part of an offense, no one is paying that kind of money for a guy who can’t be essentially the centerpiece of it.

Ballard covets his draft picks and he certainly isn’t trading away assets if he can’t work out a reasonable deal with Bell. While I can appreciate what a prolific player he has been, it is hard to see Ballard doing more than a 2-3 year deal with him, which may or may not satisfy Bell. Also, it must be factored in that Bell would not simply cost the price of his new and exorbitant contract. There is also the matter of what kind of compensation the Steelers would want in trade.

While there are plenty of obstacles in terms of contract, it is undeniable that if they could be worked out, Bell would be a compelling addition to the Colts’ offense. With a revamped offensive line and the tandem of T.Y. Hilton and Andrew Luck, Bell could very possibly step seamlessly out of the Steelers’ system and into one with the Colts that would allow him to continue producing as well as open up the play action for Hilton and allow for a much more deadly passing attack. The thought is pretty exciting and would definitely improve the Colts offense over the next 2-3 years.

So what do you think?


Assuming they could work out the contract details, would you want Le’Veon Bell to be a Colt?

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