It is no secret that Le’Veon Bell’s time with the Pittsburgh Steelers appears to be over, but the latest trade rumors link the running back to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rumors started to swirl after ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Steelers are “listening” to offers, a sharp departure from their previous stance of not trading the disgruntled running back.
Schefter went on to report that the Steelers are still a long way off from trading Bell. The Tribune-Review reported the Bucs, Jets and Colts are all “rumored to be a good fit” for Bell. Before Bucs fans get excited about potentially acquiring the Pro Bowl running back, everything at this point appears to be in the speculatory stage.
There are a few challenges for the Bucs and any other team looking to acquire Bell. The Steelers running back is due $14.5 million this season, and the team that trades for Bell needs to have the room to absorb his contract. According to Over the Cap, the Bucs have about $8.4 million in cap space so there would need to be some maneuvering for Tampa Bay to trade for Bell.
Le’Veon Bell Would Fill a Void at Running Back for the Bucs
Tampa Bay thought they had filled their void at running back by selecting USC’s Ronald Jones with a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft. Jones underwhelmed during training camp and preseason play. At times, Jones ended up with more carries than yards which is never a good sign for a running back.
The Bucs have turned to Peyton Barber, but the back has struggled through Tampa’s first two games. With the way the Bucs passing game has been, it has not mattered, but it is only a matter of time until the Bucs will need to diversify their attack. Barber is averaging just 2.6 yards per carry this season and has 91 rushing yards.
If the Bucs do trade for Bell, it is an obvious sign that the team has no plans to utilize Jones this season. Jones admitted he has no idea when he will play, and noted he is trying to “work my way” into being active on gamedays through special teams.
“I don’t know,” Jones told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s really up to the coaches. I’m just doing what they ask me to do every day, coming in and working hard, just trying to be overall a better player, a more complete player…If you’re not starting, you’re usually on special teams because they can only dress so many. I’m just trying to work my way into one of those spots.”
If Barber continues to struggle, you have to think the Bucs will eventually give Jones an opportunity to show what he can do. Tampa Bay has until the October 30th trade deadline to make a move for Bell or another player. We will have to see if the trade talks between the Steelers and Bucs intensify in the coming weeks.