Le'Veon Bell has said he plans to end his holdout with the Steelers during the team's bye week, but his timeline could change if he's traded to the Philadelphia Eagles.
- With the loss of running back Jay Ajayi, the Philadelphia Eagles have emerged as potential trade partners for Steelers superstar Le'Veon Bell, who is currently holding out to keep his body healthy for his next contract.
- The Eagles recently freed up cap space that would make such a deal possible, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the move was unrelated to a potential play for Bell.
- Regardless, should the Eagles offense fall flat in Ajayi's absence, the team would have both the assets and interest necessary to bring in Bell.
Five weeks into the 2018 NFL season, Le'Veon Bell's future is still a mystery.
Bell, who is in the final year of his contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, has been holding out for an extension that he hopes would make him one of the top-paid offensive weapons in the league.
In early October, Bell clarified the timeline of his return, saying he would end his holdout during the team's bye in Week 7. But even if he returns to the team, there's no telling whether or not he will play until he's actually on the field.
With his departure at the end of the season all but inevitable, there has been talk of the Steelers trading Bell away for the final weeks of his deal, and a new leading contender has emerged as a potential landing spot — the Philadelphia Eagles.
On Monday, the Eagles placed starting running back Jay Ajayi on injured reserve with an ACL injury, leaving the team without a marquee name in the backfield. That same day, the team restructured the contract of star defensive tackle Fletcher Cox in a move that freed up $6.5 million in cap space for 2018 and $11.7 million in 2019.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the move was made to make it easier for the Eagles to re-sign their players, rather than a play for Bell. But the newfound cap room raised more than a few eyebrows from those curious to Bell's next move. According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Eagles have "had their eye on Le'Veon Bell for quite some time."
It's also worth noting that the Eagles are not afraid to make midseason moves for big names — Philadelphia brought in Ajayi in a similar situation last season in a trade with the Dolphins, a move which wound up helping the team win its first Super Bowl.
Still, there's a long way to go before Bell suits up in green. First, Bell would have to agree to the move and sign his franchise tag; then the two teams would have to come to terms on the deal. Philadelphia has extra second- and fourth-round picks next year, so there's no shortage of assets to put together in a package.
While Schefter's source claims "It's 100 percent misleading to think Cox's restructuring was done with Le'Veon Bell in mind," it's hard to deny that the right pieces seem to be in place for such a move to happen.
For the Steelers, who seem to be getting along fine with James Conner taking over leading duties in the backfield, such a deal would give compensation for a star player set to leave town anyway. For the Eagles, Bell would provide an instantly capable weapon to an offense in need of a spark. And for Bell, Philadelphia seems like a solid place to showcase his talents in anticipation of his free agency next season.
There's no telling how the situation will play out, but if the Eagles' rushing attack struggles in Ajayi's absence, don't be surprised if the rumblings of a move for Bell continue to grow.