Le’Veon Bell’s Free Company: Will Invoice Belichick, Patriots Pursue Operating Again?

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By Michael Hurley, CBS dangolka

dangolka (CBS) — To the principals in cost in Foxboro, there could also be nothing so candy as a New York Jets loss turning right into a New England Patriots acquire. And so it’s solely pure to marvel if Invoice Belichick would possibly pounce on the newfound availability of former All-Professional working again Le’Veon Bell.

With Bell’s turbulent Jets profession coming to an abrupt finish this week, the 28-year-old working again is a free agent, in a position to signal with any NFL crew that wishes him. And with the Jets on the hook for a complete lot of dough, it should hardly price that new crew a lot cash in any respect.

Capitalizing on signing high-ceiling gamers for low-dollar salaries is type of a Belichick staple over the previous 20 years, so it’s solely pure that hypothesis would lead instantly to the Patriots seizing on this chance.

Belichick was requested straight about any potential curiosity in Bell on Thursday morning. As anticipated, Belichick didn’t remark straight in regards to the participant, although he did discuss with a few of his previous statements of reward for the working again.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t be capable of actually discuss anyone that’s not a member of our crew now, so I’ve to cross on that one,” Belichick stated. “You realize, no matter I’ve stated about Bell earlier than on the document is, you realize, I stand by that, for certain.”

The Patriots are definitely not brief on choices out of the backfield this yr. Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, James White and undrafted rookie J.J. Harris have rushed for 514 yards on 97 carries, good for a median of 5.Three yards per carry with three touchdowns. Add in Cam Newton’s 149 dashing yards and 4 dashing touchdowns, plus Burkhead’s, Michel’s and White’s mixed receiving totals (192 yards and a landing on 24 receptions), and the Patriots have themselves a fairly sturdy working again corps.

“I feel that they do have totally different abilities and there are numerous proficient gamers in that group,” Belichick stated Wednesday. “I just like the depth and the standard that we’ve got at that place.”

In a follow-up to the Bell query, Belichick was requested about managing the roster all through the season.

“One thing you must continually consider and keep on prime of and and plan for since you by no means know once you’re gonna want gamers at each place, not simply [running back],” Belichick stated. “So, Nick Caserio and Dave Ziegler and and their staffs do an excellent job of staying on prime of all of the personnel all through the league and type of what our subsequent potential choices could be relying on what we’re on the lookout for at each place, however even at a person place, there may very well be two or three totally different choices at that place primarily based on the necessity that you’ve. So, attempt to keep on prime of it and proceed to observe the depth. The place we’re at the moment and the place we have been final week and the place we is likely to be in a number of days may very well be utterly totally different, so it’s simply one thing that you must continually monitor.”

Whereas Bell’s tenure in New York was less-than-ideal and his manufacturing was diminished in comparison with his spectacular profession in Pittsburgh, he was nonetheless considerably productive, given the circumstances. He rushed for 789 yards in 15 video games final yr, whereas catching 66 passes for 461 yards. His 1,250 yards from scrimmage have been 413 greater than the next-best participant on the crew. In restricted motion this yr, he rushed for 74 yards on 19 carries whereas catching three passes for 39 yards.

By way of previous public feedback made on the document, which Belichick referred to on Wednesday, right here is one from final September:

“Bell is clearly one of many prime backs within the league. Excellent with the ball in his fingers. Nice receiver. Only a actually onerous matchup participant. He does a superb job of breaking tackles. He’s a tough man to get on the bottom whether or not he spins, jumps over guys, makes them miss within the open subject, places his shoulder down and runs by way of them.”

“He’s a really explosive participant. Yeah, if it’s there, he’ll hit it. If it’s not, he does a superb job of setting blockers up and making defenders commit, after which discovering area and going. You don’t see him run into the again of his blockers and run right into a pile and issues like that. He makes guys commit after which he finds area and is ready to get to it. He’s a superb participant.”
–Invoice Belichick, September 18, 2019

That being stated, Belichick’s crew all the time appeared to handle the specter of Bell each time given the chance. Bell has rushed for 377 yards and one landing on 94 carries in 5 video games vs. New England, whereas catching 24 passes for 215 yards with no touchdowns. His greatest efficiency got here in December 2017 (The Jesse James Recreation), when he rushed for 117 yards and a rating on 24 carries whereas catching 5 balls for 48 yards. However he’s had extra duds, together with an injury-shortened 20-yard efficiency within the 2016 AFC Championship Recreation, and a 3.2-yard common in his two video games vs. New England final yr.

Nonetheless, regardless of the distinctive circumstances and regardless of the crowded backfield in Foxboro, it could be very un-Belichick-like to utterly cross up on a chance so as to add expertise for brief cash. That’s the reason early stories stated the Patriots a minimum of appeared into Bell’s availability.

A report on Thursday indicated that the Patriots usually are not within the combine …

… which isn’t terribly stunning.

Nonetheless, till Bell indicators with that subsequent crew, the Patriots can’t ever be absolutely faraway from the radar.

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