Star running back Le’Veon Bell appears to have a short list of desirable destinations put together for his return to the field in 2019. According to FanSided’s Matt Verderame, the Miami Dolphins are the top team on Bell’s list. Bell, who sat out the entire 2018 season in search of a long-term contract, spent the majority of his time away from the Pittsburgh Steelers in South Florida.
The Dolphins, who finished the season with a 7-9 record, could use a boost on offense. Whether they take the bait and sign a high-profile player like Bell is another story. After making expensive free agent signings in recent years, Miami’s front office might take an organic approach to team building under a new coaching staff this offseason.
Despite the potential pitfalls, Bell’s superb talent would instantly bolster the Dolphins’ solid-but-unspectacular running back group.
Why Bell Fits for Miami
The Dolphins will enter free agency with a modest amount of available money. If General Manager Chris Grier decides to part ways with quarterback Ryan Tannehill this spring, it would lighten the burden on Miami’s 2019 payroll. If the Dolphins attempt to use the bulk of that available space to give Bell the type of contract he covets, the incoming coaching staff will be forced to get creative under center. With Bell in the fold, that burden might not be as big as it seems on paper.
Judging by current draft projections, it is likely that the Dolphins will be in a position to take one of the top quarterbacks in the draft at pick No. 13. Yes, the 2019 quarterback class isn’t as deep as previous years, but serviceable options still exist. Partnering a young signal caller with Bell is a winning proposition. Bell has been stellar on the ground as well as through the air. The former Michigan State star has surpassed the 80-reception threshold on two separate occasions in his career. His ability to turn short passes into big gains would provide a developing quarterback one of the best security blankets in the entire league.
Miami’s Current Running Back Situation
After a stellar finish in 2017, third-year running back Kenyan Drake failed to earn former Head Coach Adam Gase’s trust. In a committee-like approach, the Dolphins relied on Frank Gore and Drake to carry the offense. Gore will be 36 years old when the 2019 season gets underway, but he still presents value for his hometown team. Even if Miami lands Bell, Gore is an option to add depth at a modest price.
Outside of Drake and Gore, rookie Kalen Ballage showed glimpses of his upside in the final stretch of the regular season. Ballage, a fourth-round selection out of Arizona State, exploded for 123 yards in Week 15 against the Minnesota Vikings. Ballage’s rapid ascension could give the Dolphins second thoughts about offering a lucrative contract to Bell.
Even with a trio of potential running back options, Bell is a clear upgrade for a Dolphins team that needs a boost on offense.