On Saturday January 22 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers waived running back Le’Veon Bell to make room on the roster for fellow RB Leonard Fournette, who was activated off injured reserve. Fournette earned the nickname ‘Playoff Lenny’—and later ‘Lombardi Lenny’—during Tampa Bay’s playoff run to the Super Bowl LV title last season, producing 448 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns along the way. He is expected to feature on Sunday in the divisional playoff against the Los Angeles Rams, creating the opportunity for him to solidify his reputation for postseason performance.
Le’Veon Bell Turns 30 in February
Meanwhile, one wonders if this is the end of the NFL road for Le’Veon Bell, who will turn 30 years old on February 18. The former second-round pick of the Steelers (2013) has carried the ball a total of 39 times for 101 yards this season for two different teams, an average of just 2.6 yards per carry. Those carries came in five appearances with the Baltimore Ravens—who signed him on September 7, 2021, and released him in mid-November—and in another three games for the Bucs, who brought him aboard on December 21.
Those numbers are significantly worse than what Bell produced as a member of the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs in 2020, when he averaged 4.0 yards per carry on 82 rushing attempts and scored a pair of rushing touchdowns. Never mind that his 2020 stats were already a huge step down from the numbers he produced during his five seasons with the Steelers, when he twice averaged 4.9 yards per carry (in both 2015 and 2016) and was a first-team All-Pro two different times.
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Is It Over for the Killer B’s?
Le’Veon Bell’s release begs the question: Have we seen the last of the trio of offensive superstars that Steelers fans used to refer to as the Killer B’s?
Of course, longtime Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger already had his emotional sendoff at Heinz Field back in early January and all signs point to him retiring. The third member of the Killer B’s, wide receiver Antonio Brown, was released by the Buccaneers on January 6, four days after he quit on his team mid-game, stripping to the waist and walking off the field during the midst of Tampa Bay’s comeback victory over the New York Jets on January 2, 2022.
Brown claims that “a couple teams called” after he was released by Tampa Bay, but who knows? Brown, who will turn 34 in July, isn’t getting any younger and his baggage isn’t getting any lighter.
For all the media attention he attracts, Brown has appeared in a total of 16 regular-season games since he last played for the Steelers in 2018. And while his numbers have been strong across those 16 games (91 receptions for 1,084 yards and nine receiving touchdowns), he has no doubt benefitted from the fact that Tom Brady has been the quarterback throwing him the football. Anyway, those stats aren’t anywhere close to the numbers he put up during his prime, when he was a first-team All-Pro four times (between 2014-17) and had career highs in receptions (136) and receiving yards (1,834), with both figures coming in 2015.
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