As of earlier this week, it sounds like the Pittsburgh Steelers can expect running back Le’Veon Bell to finally show up and sign his franchise tag tender during the team’s bye week. If that’s the case, then the Steelers will have played three more games by then with two of those being against teams in their division, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns. Obviously, if the Steelers don’t win at least two of their next three games, their season will be very much in doubt and especially if back-to-back divisional losses occur. In short, Bell’s arrival might be too late and if so, you can expect most of the fan base to pray and hope even harder for him to be traded.
Even if the Steelers win their next three games prior to Bell’s supposed arrival, there will still be a large portion of the fan base who will want the running back traded and if you believe a Wednesday report/speculation from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Philadelphia Eagles might be the team most-likely to deal for him.
“If I am the Eagles, who have been mulling the potential of a Bell trade for a while now, nothing I saw last Sunday would curb my interest,” La Canfora wrote on Wednesday about Philadelphia possibly trading for the Steelers running back. “In fact, it would only heighten my desire to acquire a player of this impact given the way the defending Super Bowl champions have limped through the first quarter of the season. A year ago, they stirred things up and dealt for Jay Ajayi; a Bell trade midseason this year could boost them even further.”
To me, this sounds more like speculation on La Canfora’s part than anything else and quite honestly, I’m not a big fan of his reporting style and track record. Even so, the Eagles would probably be a reasonable trade partner for the Steelers when it comes to Bell, all things considered.
In case you haven’t been keeping up with the Eagles the last few weeks, their top three running backs, Jay Ajayi (back), Darren Sproles (hamstring), and Corey Clement (quad) have all been dealing with injuries to start the season. Ajayi, their top back, however, is not currently on the team’s Week 5 injury report, so there’s that to consider.
The Eagles enter Week 5 with a 2-2 record and their next four games are against the Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, and Jacksonville Jaguars. Three of those four games will obviously have already taken place by the time Bell reports and signs his franchise tag tender. Additionally, the trade deadline this season is October 30.
For what it’s worth, Joe Banner, the Eagles former team president, recently said in an interview with The Atlantic that he believes it would be worth it for Philadelphia to trade for Bell and that even giving the Steelers a second-round draft pick to obtain him isn’t too high of a price to pay. While that’s once again only speculation, it certainly would be hard for the Steelers to turn down a second or third-round draft pick for Bell if offered such and especially if they were to lose at least two of their next three games before he shows up to sign his franchise tag.
The Eagles would obviously obtain Bell with the hopes that he could help them win another Super Bowl this season and then potentially transition tag him prior to March with the hopes that they could match whatever best offer he were to receive during free agency. If they chose not to transition tag and just let him walk off via free agency to the highest bidder at least they could probably look forward to getting 2020 third-round compensatory value for him in return and that would of course help offset what they gave the Steelers for him.
Personally, I’ll still be very surprised if the Steelers ultimately trade away Bell but if there was one team I think makes the most sense to deal for him, it’s probably the Eagles.