Le’Veon Bell was released by the New York Jets last night after a short stint on a massive contract, and the Buccaneers could make a play for the elite back.
No team should ever pay a running back. No matter how well a back is playing at the moment, even an All-Pro like Le’Veon Bell, the position is too volatile to invest large amounts of capital safely. Running back is on the bottom of the totem pole for paying players, and the cycle repeats itself at an almost-comical pace.
Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, and Todd Gurley were all playing at unbelievable levels within the past few years and given significant contracts. None of those three backs are still with the teams that paid them, two of which were cut.
The Cowboys are experiencing something similar, where Ezekiel Elliott is posting career lows in efficiency after earning a top contract as well.
Running backs play at a replaceable level, and the turnover rate is too high to invest money in a position that leads to injuries at the highest rate in the league for the part of the offense that is the least important to offensive success. In the modern NFL, the run is set up by effective passing and an offensive line, and establishing the run has gone extinct.
With that being said, the Buccaneers have still emerged as one of the likely teams to make a play for Bell. Their prior history this season with free agents and their injury luck could mean they have little chance of ruling this out as an impossibility. After everything that has happened this season, adding Le’Veon Bell on a cheap contract would be far from surprising.