Le’Veon Bell Is A Free Agent and Bill Belichick Should Sign Him
The NFL trade deadline is November 3rd and the New England Patriots have a few holes to fill on their roster in order to make some serious noise in the AFC playoff picture.
Here are five players, in no particular order, that I think Bill should take a look at bringing to Foxboro via signing or trade, along with some reasoning for each potential addition.
Le’Veon Bell – What is there to lose? “Poor character” guys don’t tank the Pats’ locker room like they may on other teams, and it’s not exactly like Le’Veon was locker room cancer in New York. He was on a terribly dysfunctional team, butted heads with HC Adam Gase (who wouldn’t?) and wanted out of a terrible situation.
Don’t let the sour taste he may have left in your mouth from the Pittsburgh divorce cloud your judgment. The Jets were arguably the worst team in the NFL during Bell’s 17-game stay in the Big Apple, yet by all reports, he was a model citizen last year despite the team wasting his talents and giving him the ball straight up the gut, only to get killed a yard beyond the line of scrimmage.
Is he the same guy he was in Pittsburgh? Absolutely not. That guy was the most lethal duel-threat running back the NFL had ever seen, and was arguably both a Hall of Fame running back and wide receiver. He’s lost a step. But, if he comes to a team like the Patriots, that actually build game plans around their player’s strengths, unlike the Jets, he could be a difference maker.
Any money owed to Bell ($2.5mil bonus and $6mil in prorated salary) is owed by the Jets. Whoever signs him can do so for the league minimum if that’s what they agree upon. Bring him to Foxboro, let him work out of the backfield some but also utilize his route running ability to take a load off the depleted receiving corps. Bell isn’t James White or Rex Burkhead, you can actually line him up as a receiver and he can be productive.
Bell tweeted out today “Got a lot to prove. I’m ready to go.” It’s a classic low-risk/high-reward move that Bill Belichick loves to take advantage of. Just think, Cam Newton and Le’Veon Bell in the same backfield for a grand total of $2-million? Not too shabby.
Advice: come on, Bill, get it done.
Golden Tate – Tate’s name seems to get linked to the Pats every year at this time, and with good reason, as he seems like a great fit for New England’s system.
Tate has 67 catches for 821 yards and 6 TD in 15 games as a New York Giant and you have to think those numbers would only be better if he was playing for, you know, a competent team with a competent QB.
Money is the issue here. He’s owed north of $5mil for the remainder of this season, and is still on the books for a $10.8mil cap hit in 2021 and an $8.3mil cap hit in 2022 (his age 34 season).
Advice: Only if the price is right. He could spell Edelman, who has been banged up all year, but the future money has me hesitant.
A.J. Green – Admittedly, I’m not too high on this one. Just trying to be transparent.
Green reportedly wants out of Cincinnati after seeing the lion’s share of Joe Burrow’s targets go to Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins and Joe Mixon through the first five games. Green missed all of last season with an ankle injury/holdout once he healed, as he didn’t want to play for the garbage 2-14 Bengals. He’s a shadow of the receiver we saw prior to injuries catching up to the 32-year-old, and has just 14rec/119yds this season. However, in context that would put him behind only Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry, and tied with Damiere Byrd, for most receptions on the Pats.
He’s under contract for just this season but is still owed more than $12mil. But what the hell? The Pats have plenty of money to blow for this year following all the COVID-19 opt outs in preseason, and it’s not my money so what do I care how it’s spent? Maybe Green finds a second wind in New England, maybe he’s just a physical redzone threat (6’4” and proven, unlike Harry) or maybe he’s the next Mohamed Sanu…hopefully not.
Advice: buy real cheap. Like 6th or 7th round cheap and don’t go any higher. (Or is it lower?)
Earl Thomas – When last heard from, Earl Thomas was clocking a teammate in the face and posting practice footage of Ravens’ plays on Twitter, which led to his abrupt exit in Baltimore. Those aren’t necessarily the ways to get into Bill Belichick’s good graces.
The way you do that is by doing your job. And during the height of his powers in Seattle, few were better at their job than Earl Thomas. Is he the same player from then? No. But is he serviceable? Yeah, sure, why not? He had 49 tackles and two picks last year with the Ravens, and Thomas’s physicality, coupled with the play of Adrian Phillips we’ve witnessed during the first four games of the season, could give the Patriots flexibility in the strong safety/outside linebacker role.
Phillips has basically been used as a linebacker to this point by Belichick, playing closer to the box than most safeties would. Kyle Duggar has been solid in his opportunities as well, but rather than position redundancy, view this potential acquisition as depth.
Thomas is a free agent, so you can bring him in for as cheap as you want if he’s still looking to get back on a roster.
Advice: Sure. Signings are easier than trades. 1yr/minimum, why not?
Zach Ertz – There’s been growing frustration between Ertz and the Eagles for some time now, as the tight end has wanted to see the franchise put pen to paper on a new contract as the market for TE’s increases. The Eagles are bad (1-3-1), Ertz has been, as Jackson would say, “meh” (20rec/145yds/1td) and Philly has a solid 2nd option at the position in Dallas Goedert (58rec/607yds/5td last year, 13rec/138yds/1td this year), so why not ship Ertz out of town?
Now, if Bill wants to make this deal happen, it’s going to cost him considerably more than any of the other players on here because a trade would need to be made and Ertz still has considerable market value, unlike most the other options. He’s also due a base salary of $8.25mil in 2021 before his contract voids following the ’21 season.
But the Pats have basically played without a TE this season. Ryan Izzo has 3 catches for 44 yards…and that’s it. Rookies Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene have yet to even be targeted on a play.
The position is screaming to be upgraded and Ertz would certainly be leaps and bounds ahead of anything they have in-house. Also, think back to Newton’s relationship with Greg Olsen in Carolina, when Olsen, a tight end, was usually his top target in the passing game.
It’s unlikely of Bill to make as bold a move as this would be, but it’s one I’d like to see.
Advice: cough up a couple 3rd-4th round picks (or one 2nd) and make it happen.