For the better part of his career, running back Le’Veon Bell prided himself on being ‘the guy’. He would often say that he doesn’t care how many snaps or touches he gets per game. He had even complained a time or two about not getting enough touches.
During his five years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell averaged 19.8 carries per game, plus five receptions per game, essentially averaging 25 touches per game, over a five-year span. Granted, he missed a season’s worth of games during that span, but when he was on the field, he was a legitimate workhorse.
That’s far from the case in his current circumstances. After being released by the New York Jets earlier this season, he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he is playing behind rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire and alongside Darrell Williams. He talked about that change in workload earlier this week.
“It’s different. My whole career I’ve kind of been the guy, maybe get spelled every now and then”, he said during his Super Bowl media day. “This year, it’s been the first time I’ve ever been part of a running back committee kind of thing. It’s been different, something I’ve been adjusting to”.
“It’s really gonna help me elongate my career. I’m not getting the ball 25 times a game, so it’s gonna help me play longer”, he added. “I like it. Every time I’m in the game, every time I get a chance to go in the game, it’s like, I’m fresh. I’ve got all the energy. I never really feel fatigued”.
“It’s a good change. It’s something different, but I like it”.
It almost sounded as though he was convincing himself that he liked it over the course of his response, and perhaps he has learned to like it. The odds of him ever making top-of-the-market money again are slim to none—he simply hasn’t performed in a way that would justify it, and will be 29 years old at the start of free agency—so he ought to prioritize other things, like winning.
Bell has played in nine games in the regular season for the Chiefs. He recorded jus 63 carries during that time, picking up 254 yards, averaging four yards per attempt, with two rushing touchdowns. He also has 13 receptions for 99 yards. He has another 36 rushing yards on nine postseason carries and one nine-yard reception.
When he left the Steelers, Bell had the highest career average yards from scrimmage per game in NFL history, picking up 7996 yards in 62 games through five seasons in Pittsburgh. He has only picked up an extra 1716 yards across the 25 games that he has played since then.