Le’Veon Bell‘s contract demands this coming offseason are too extreme for any NFL team to seriously consider—especially the Chiefs.
Let’s imagine a scenario just for a second.
You’re married with completely shared finances. No solo checking or savings accounts here. Your partner comes home tomorrow with exciting news, yelling and cheering and jumping as they enter the front door about a brand new purchase. Your spouse decided to purchase a new car and it’s parked in the driveway.
Soon after following him or her outside to see the new car, you begin to find out the details. Yes, the car goes zero to 60 faster than anything you’ve ever driven. The paint job is custom and heads will certainly turn anytime you drive it.
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Unfortunately, the finances involved make your excitement decelerate as fast as the car can get up and go. It turns out your spouse has already signed all the legal paperwork on a car payment that will eat up all savings, your margin and then some.
This is the scenario for not only the Kansas City Chiefs but any team who would consider meeting Le’Veon Bell’s financial demands this coming spring.
Earlier this week, Bleacher Report published a list of the best offseason targets for each team and put the Chiefs and Bell together as some magical acquisition.
The entire article goes on at length about what Bell would bring to the Chiefs. He’s incredibly productive with the sort of patience and vision that turn heads at the position. It’s the chance to install an instant All-Pro into an offense that’s already the best in the NFL. Imagine defenses even trying to stop a unit with Bell as an option among Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and whoever else is brought in this offseason.
Here’s the thing: no one doubts what Bell brings to the field. The problem is what he’s demanding to put up such totals. As good as his on-field numbers are, the numbers off-the-field look absolutely silly. Bell is reportedly wanting to average $17 million a season with $45 million guaranteed in any new contract.
That’s an easy answer for any team (or at least it should be): no.
If you believe Bell will jump right back into form and put up the exact numbers he did in 2017 even after a full year away, his demand of $17M per season would equal $13,168 per rushing yard and $8,735 per yard from scrimmage. Now let’s take a look at the top 10 rushers so far this year (through 14 games):
Name – Cap hit (per rushing yard/per yard from scrimmage)
1. Ezekiel Elliot – $5,040 / $3,594
2. Todd Gurley – $5,778 / $3,947
3. Saquon Barkley – $5,892 / $3.762
4. Joe Mixon – $1,244 / $968
5. Phillip Lindsay – $489 / $397
6. Christian McCaffrey – $4,002 / $2,242
7. Adrian Peterson – $682 / $560
8. Lamar Miller – $7,360 / $6,250
9. Chris Carson – $625 / $534
10. James Conner – $830 / $548
Le’Veon Bell would cost the Chiefs or any other team between 2x to 2.5x per yard than even the most expensive backs in the NFL. The idea that any team would want to pay a running back at such a heightened rate is ridiculous—even if that team has a young quarterback on a slotted rookie wage deal.
There are good cases to be made that even Saquon Barkley was a poor choice due to the money involved, and certainly the Lamar Miller deal looks very poor in retrospect. Great running backs can be had for pennies on the dollar and the Chiefs have enjoyed exactly that over the last two years with Kareem Hunt.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, have serious other financial concerns. Tyreek Hill needs an extension. Chris Jones needs one, too. Meanwhile, the $93 million already pledged to Anthony Hitchens and Sammy Watkins didn’t exactly provide the dependable performers that Brett Veach was hoping for last year. With the number of defensive holes that need to be filled, it’s hard to imagine that the Chiefs would want to pay well over market rate for the position that’s easiest to fill with decent talent.
Again, none of this is about Bell’s productivity. It’s not that Bell would not be an exciting addition. In our imagined scenario above, it would obviously be exciting to own and drive a shiny new sports car. That doesn’t make it a good move, however, especially when it means there’s no money for a new roof or much needed electrical work.
There’s no way that Le’Veon Bell ever comes close to signing with the Chiefs if these are his demands. If the Chiefs do get involved, it will mean that Bell’s financial bubble has been burst. Even if Bell lowers his demands, however, the Chiefs still aren’t likely to be interested. Any intelligent front office knows that similar productivitiy can be had for a fraction of the cost.