Le'Veon Bell reportedly has high-flying Colts at the 'top of his list' in free agency
The Steelers running back sat out the 2018 season because of a contract dispute
The Steelers running back who skipped the 2018 season and will be a free agent in March, "has his eyes" on Indianapolis, a source told SNY.com's Ralph Vacchiano, who adds that Bell hasn't ruled out signing with the Jets -- or any other team with interest -- but seems to have the Colts at the "top of his list."
"He has his eyes on the Colts, no doubt about that," the source told Vacchiano. "He sees [Andrew] Luck and that offense and all that cap room and they're much closer than the Jets. He wants to go someplace he can win right away."
The Colts currently have the No. 12 offense, according to Football Outsiders metrics, and any concerns about Luck's surgically repaired shoulder have long since dissipated; he's thrown for 3,951 yards this season with 34 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a 98.4 passer rating. He's also eighth in total value among all quarterbacks, just behind Tom Brady and Jared Goff.
Indianapolis also has the money to pay Bell; the team is expected to have more than $122 million in salary-cap space this offseason, according to Spotrac.
So where might Bell end up in 2019? In October, we ranked all 32 teams and the usual suspects were among the front runners, including the Vikings, Falcons, Texans, Raiders and, of course, the surging Colts.
The biggest (only) issue that kept Bell on his couch this season was the Steelers' unwillingness to meet his contract demands. The team reportedly offered him long-term deals after the 2016 and 2017 seasons but Bell reportedly wanted $40 million in guaranteed money. Neither side budged and here we are. Pair Bell with Luck and you'd have the best backfield in Indy since Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James. But just because the Colts have the money it doesn't mean they're looking to spend it all.
Of course, there may not be the market for Bell that the running back is hoping for. Here's what:
Conversations with a handful of NFL general managers and salary-cap experts – some who would have a need for a running back of Bell's stature and some who would not be in the market for him – revealed what could be a more tepid response to him.
If the Colts can get Bell for the right price, the offense, which already includes T.Y. Hilton, a resurgent Eric Ebron and a very good offensive line -- not to mention a defense that has surprised everyone with how well it's played -- will be among the league's best and the team will head into next season as among the early favorites to make a deep run in the AFC.
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