Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell rejected a five-year contract extension worth $70 million in the offseason, and he continues to hold out into the regular season.
Bell is arguably the game's best all-around running back, but the Steelers have made it clear they're fine rolling without him. Second-year back James Conner looked impressive in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns, so the Steelers know they can get by without Bell.
At this point, you can't help but believe Bell may have already played his final game as a Steeler. Some of his teammates have labeled Bell as selfish, and he doesn't seem to be in a rush to return to the field. Because of this, it's time to start thinking about a potential Bell trade.
Though Bell is obviously an elite talent, there are only so many teams that make sense via trade. Yes, Bell would look great playing alongside Drew Brees, Tom Brady or Jared Goff, but that doesn't mean their respective teams need him to succeed.
On the flip side, some teams may be better off not even inquiring about Bell. He is a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, and there are some clubs you know he won't re-sign with.
Looking at the other 31 teams, a handful of them would be perfect destinations for Bell. But which teams should stay away from Bell, and which teams stand no chance of re-signing Bell, even if they were to trade for him? We break it all down here.
20 Could: Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins offense looked excellent under Ryan Tannehill in Week 1, as did the ageless Frank Gore at running back. But if the Dolphins want to nab a playoff spot in the loaded AFC, they need another big time playmaker, and Bell could be that guy.
Head coach Adam Gase is one of the brilliant offensive gurus, and he'd certainly find a way to make the most of Bell.
Considering that Tannehill is still easing his way back from a torn ACL injury, it would help Miami to have a workhorse in the backfield.
Bell and Tannehill would really be quite the offensive duo to watch.
19 Stay Away: Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are set at offense with Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Travis Benjamin, Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon. All the pieces are there to contend for the AFC West, so why would they bother trading for Bell?
Sure, Bell is the best running back in the NFL, but he isn't much of an upgrade over Gordon. The latter has developed into one of the NFL's top running backs; easily this team's best since the LaDainian Tomlinson days.
If the Chargers are looking to upgrade anything at the deadline, they should focus on the offensive line or secondary. Adding Bell wouldn't change the dynamic of their offense that much.
18 Wouldn't Re-Sign With: Detroit Lions
Just how bad is the Detroit Lions' rushing game? Reggie Bush is the last player to rush for 1,000 yards, and that was five years ago. It's a sign of both over-relying on Matthew Stafford and a bad run-blocking team.
Detroit would probably love to trade for Bell in order to take some of the pressure off of Stafford. Even though the Lions signed power running back LeGarrette Blount in free agency, he's not your ideal No. 1 guy. He needs to be complemented.
Perhaps the Lions make a big move and trade for Bell in order to boost their running game. But given the porous offensive line, it doesn't makes sense for Bell to sign with the Lions long-term.
17 Could: Oakland Raiders
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden made a bold decision to trade away franchise star Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears, but it did net him a pair of first-round picks, plus third and sixth-round choices.
Oakland now has a plethora of draft picks in 2019 an 2020, and Gruden should think about sparing one or two of them to get Bell.
Quarterback Derek Carr hasn't shown his ability to take that next leap yet, but adding Bell would do a lot to fix the offense.
With the Raiders also opting to trade away Mack, they'd have the cap space to sign Bell long-term. It'd be a worthy move for Gruden, who needs to do something to help out Carr and the rest of the offense.
16 Stay Away: New Orleans Saints
The Saints already own by far the game's best running back duo in reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara and veteran Mark Ingram. The passing game is as dangerous as ever, with Drew Brees and Michael Thomas emerging as one of the top QB-WR duos.
As such, the Saints really don't have a reason to trade for Bell. Yes, Mark Ingram is unsigned going into 2019, but he and Kamara are already lethal as a duo as it is. There's no need for New Orleans to upgrade over Ingram, especially if it means making Bell the league's highest paid RB.
Ingram and Kamara complement each other perfectly. There is no need for the Saints to make a big change at RB, when the two guys produce more than enough.
15 Could: Houston Texans
The clock is ticking on the Houston Texans to reach that next level. How many chances will head coach Bill O'Brien get? The offense is a mess year after year, and quarterback Deshaun Watson has a long way to go in his development.
Running back Lamar Miller has disappointed in Houston, and it would certainly be nice if this offense could get a player with the skill set of Bell.
Imagine he, Watson and DeAndre Hopkins as an offensive trio.
That would finally give Houston an offense to help them contend for a Super Bowl. The Texans front office has to start being more aggressive. Trading for Bell would be just the move to help them get back into the postseason.
14 Wouldn't Re-Sign With: New York Jets
The Jets may have signed Isaiah Crowell to be their lead running back, but what if they're a surprise playoff contender by the deadline? Perhaps the front office gets aggressive, and maybe they decide to trade for Bell, in order to help out rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.
That being said, the Jets aren't the best team for Bell to join long-term. Crowell would certainly take some of the carries away from them, and Darnold's talents could mean they don't give Bell the proper amount of carries to satisfy him.
Even if the Jets make a play for Bell, that doesn't mean he should sign here long-term.
13 Could: Indianapolis Colts
The Colts finally have a healthy Andrew Luck at quarterback, now just imagine what this offense would look like with a Pro Bowl signal-caller and the best running back in the game right now.
Indianapolis has acquired has a handful of draft picks, obtained via the New York Jets, who moved up to the third spot to get quarterback Sam Darnold.
With so much cap space, the Colts could also afford to pay Bell whatever he wants to get him under contract long-term.
The Colts are playing in a difficult AFC South division that features the ferocious Jaguars defense. They have to stop wasting Luck's prime years. It's time to make a big move, and trading for Bell could make them a legitimate playoff contender.
12 Stay Away: Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs offense is among the most potent in the NFL, thanks to the plethora of playmakers they have. It features quarterback Patrick Mahomes, reigning rushing champion in Kareem Hunt and the speedy, do-it-all wideout Tyreek Hill.
Kansas City has a near-flawless offense, complete with pass-catchers Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins at wide receiver. There is no reason for them to add Bell, when they already have enough dynamic playmakers. Hunt won the rushing title in his rookie season, and there's still plenty of room for him to get even better.
Plus, the Steelers probably wouldn't want to trade Bell to an AFC rival.
11 Wouldn't Re-Sign With: Cleveland Browns
If the Browns were to somehow land Bell, don't think for an instant that he'd want to re-sign with a team that hasn't won a game in two years (hard to believe, I know).
The Browns do have the cap space, and there is a strong core on offense led by Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry and Baker Mayfield. But Cleveland probably wouldn't offer Bell that lucrative of a contract to begin with, nor would he want to join a team that is just in the midst of its rebuilding process.
Bell would be a nice addition to the Cleveland offense, but it's impossible to imagine him wanting to re-sign here long term, if they were to make a trade for him, even if it would mean a homecoming of sorts for the Ohio native.
10 Could: San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers were dealt a huge blow before the season started when running back Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL. He was supposed to be their lead running back, but now it's just more pressure on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to carry the offense.
San Francisco has an excellent core of young players, and they're built to win for many years to come.
Given the position they're in, it'd be wise to be aggressive and make a big move by trading for Bell. The 49ers also have the salary cap space to pay Bell whatever he wants to stay on long-term. He'd be a great pairing with Garoppolo, who continues to develop as a franchise quarterback.
9 Stay Away: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles boasted one of the NFL's best offenses of all-time in 2017, thanks in large part to the reliable ground game. With LeGarrette Blount long gone, the rushing game is now led by Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement.
Philadelphia will get quarterback Carson Wentz and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery soon. So if you're worried about the performance of Philly's offense so far, don't worry about it. They're getting reinforcements soon, so there isn't a reason for them to trade for Bell.
There are enough playmakers on offense, and the Eagles already own two quality running backs. Even though Bell would be a good add to the Eagles, they don't really need him. They're staying away. Period.
8 Wouldn't Re-Sign With: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sure, the Buccaneers upset the New Orleans Saints on the road in Week 1, but that doesn't mean they're going to be a good team in 2018. The Buccaneers are a mediocre unit, with lots of questions about the character of the team (head coach Dirk Koetter and quarterback Jameis Winston reportedly clashed last year).
There is no reason for Bell to re-sign with Tampa Bay, if they were to trade for him. They play in an NFC South loaded with three contenders - the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints.
The Buccaneers may get desperate and acquire Bell via trade, but that doesn't mean he should even consider signing here long-term, even if they offer him the money he wants. He just wouldn't be in position to succeed.
7 Could: Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks haven't been able to replace the void left by Marshawn 'Beast Mode' Lynch when he retired two years ago. Lynch came back and joined the Oakland Raiders, and the Seahawks continue to try just about everything in the backfield.
Nothing has worked, and it's becoming desperation time for GM John Schneider.
Russell Wilson is great and all, but imagine how good this offense could be with a top-tier running back. He, Bell and Doug Baldwin would form quite the offensive machine.
Seattle won't be winning a lot of games if the passing game continues to be the only strength of the team. The Seahawks need to go for it, and trading for Bell would be the perfect move.
6 Stay Away: New England Patriots
It's tempting to link any superstar player to the New England Patriots, but the fit really isn't there when you look at it closely. For starters, Bill Belichick isn't one to throw out lucrative contracts to top free agents.
For another, the Patriots like to use multiple running backs in their offense. Belichick used a first round pick on Sony Michel, while Rex Burkhead and James White have been reliable pieces for Tom Brady.
If Bell rejects a $70 million contract from the Steelers, what makes you think he'd go to the Patriots, who surely wouldn't offer anything close to that? Belichick is simply going to roll with the RB-by-committee approach he's used for years now.
5 Could: Green Bay Packers
Ever since they moved on from Eddie Lacy, the Packers have tried time and time again to find a legitimate running back to complement Aaron Rodgers and the passing game.
Well, imagine if they put Bell with Rodgers. This offense would be on another level with Rodgers, Bell, Jimmy Graham, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams.
The Packers need to start going all-in while Rodgers is still in his prime.
The Packers offense is tough enough with Rodgers already, but it's much tougher when teams have to account for a top running back as well. The Packers need to go for it and trade for a player like Bell. Such a trade would easily make them the team to beat in the NFC.
4 Stay Away: Los Angeles Rams
This is a pretty easy one, isn't it?
Rams running back Gurley is coming off an impressive 2017 season in which he won the Offensive Player of the Year Award, rushing for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns. Gurley also added 64 receptions for 788 yards and six touchdowns.
Gurley is only 24 years of age, and he's already a top-five running back in the NFL. The Rams have no reason to trade for Bell, even as a rental at the trade deadline. Gurley is their franchise running back, and the passing game is terrific under quarterback Jared Goff. The Rams would have to give up quite a bit to get Bell. Not worth it.
3 Wouldn't Re-Sign With: Buffalo Bills
It's unlikely that the Bills would trade for Bell, considering they already have LeSean McCoy at running back (although he's hitting the tail end of his prime). But if the front office got desperate and traded for Bell, they'd only have him for one year.
No way he'd play for this mediocre team, with a horrible offensive line and questions all over the roster.
Bell wants to get paid big money, and the Bills aren't a team that usually wins bidding wars for top free agents (Mario Williams is an exception). He also needs a stout offensive line in front of him. The Bills don't have that, which is why rookie Josh Allen was benched for Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens.
If there's one team to bet money on Bell not signing with, it's easily the Bills.
2 Could: Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings return with the NFL's best defense in both scoring and yardage from a year ago. They signed quarterback Kirk Cousins to work with standout wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, so why not go for Bell?
Yes, they already have the promising Dalvin Cook as their lead running back. But they could trade for Bell as a rental, and just imagine how complete this team would be with the three-time Pro Bowler as their lead back.
Minnesota has one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, but they'd be the team to beat in the NFC with Bell complementing Cousins, Diggs and Thielen. This is the ultra go-for-it trade, one that could lead them to their first Super Bowl.
1 Stay Away: Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars carry perhaps the most talented roster in the AFC, and when something isn't broken, you don't fix it. Jacksonville is a great team filled with strong characters and leaders. Trading for a player like Bell, who's made it clear he's more about himself than the team, would not be a good addition for the locker room.
On top of that, the Jaguars already own a stout running back in Leonard Fournette, who rushed for over 1,000 yards in his rookie season. Jacksonville has just enough talent on offense, and the players have established an excellent locker room.
There is absolutely no reason to trade for Bell, even if he's the top running back in the NFL.