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INDIANAPOLIS – This is an article written to appease the masses and address the biggest story in the NFL right now.

A simple Monday roster move, which was a release of fourth-string running back Christine Michael, and therefore pointing out that such a transaction could be a positive development for Marlon Mack returning in Week Four, instead went down a totally different path.

The reaction was pouring in: Does this mean the Colts are trading for Le’Veon Bell?

No, it does not.

But until Bell reports to the Steelers, stops his social media ‘favoritism’ towards the Colts or the Oct. 30 trade deadline passes, the possibility of his NFL future moving to Indianapolis is at least a topic worth discussing.

So let’s discuss it (even though it’s very hard to imagine the Steelers trading Bell within their own conference).

What are the pros and cons of the Colts trading for the 26-year-old Bell?

 

Pros

  • Rare Talent: When healthy, Le’Veon Bell is one of the most unique runners in the entire NFL. He’s a two-time All-Pro and has put together some NFL seasons that are Canton-like. Bell’s patience as a runner, how he catches the ball out of the backfield and the ability to rev up into different gears, are his strongest assets. Since entering the NFL in 2013, no player has averaged more touches per game (24) or yards from scrimmage per game (130) than Bell.
  • Versatile Offensive Piece: Not only has Bell handled a bellcow workload in Pittsburgh, but he’s a definite three-down back. Part of the disagreement in contract negotiations with the Steelers is that Bell views himself as a receiver, too, despite having the ‘RB’ designation. To a degree, Bell has a point. In his healthy/non-suspension seasons (2014 and 2017), Bell caught 83 and 85 balls, respectively. Bell would thrive in Frank Reich’s offense lining up all over the formation.
  • Running Back Need Gone: Could you imagine an immediate trio of Andrew Luck, Le’Veon Bell and T.Y. Hilton? Talk about triplets. Moving on from Frank Gore, with Bell, would give the Colts one of the game’s most dynamic players. The Colts have had some running back issues here in 2018. Trading for Bell would immediately cross that problem off the list. If the Colts could then ink Bell to a long-term deal (after the 2018 season), one would think running back is no longer a question mark for the next several seasons.

 

Cons

  • Off The Field Risk: Is this the sort of culture message you want to send your locker room? Bell has been suspended twice in his NFL career and has clearly caused a distraction with this this holdout. I’m not sure Bell is doing himself any favors by the ‘vacation’ lifestyle he seems to be living right now in Miami. Shelving out the sort of money that Bell is demanding ($15 million per year?), you better be darn sure that the risk is minimal. That can’t be confidently said with Bell.
  • Losing Draft Capital: To acquire Bell, it’s going to take at least a second-round pick, and probably a tad more than that. Remember, with how Chris Ballard has elected to handle his roster building, draft picks mean so, so much. Yes, the Colts do have a pair of second-round picks in 2019 (one from the Jets trade), but what if you could find a running back in the second round, who is 5-6 years younger than Bell, and on a much more secure/cheap contract situation? Let’s not act like this team is a running back away from being in the Super Bowl. Needs, on different levels, are still pressing at left tackle, right tackle, wide receiver, defensive tackle, edge rusher, linebacker and cornerback.
  • No Longer Term Guarantee: The Colts are one of the very few teams in the NFL who could absorb the $11.9 million price tag that comes with trading for Bell this season. That’s for Bell’s franchise tag here in 2018. Even if a trade occurs, there’s no long-term guarantee that Bell would stay in Indianapolis. Would the Colts be willing to sign him to a long-term deal (if you trade for him, you better be willing to hand out that contract)? Does Bell indeed want to be with the Colts for the second phase of his career? Remember, no official contract talks can take place between Bell and his new team until after the 2018 season ends.
     

Bowens Thoughts: Questioning Le’Veon Bell’s incredible talent is foolish. He’s one of the game’s most unique players. Although, I’m not sold on Bell’s patient running style being the right fit behind an Indy offensive line yet to open up any consistent running lanes. If Bell’s a career 4.3 yards per carry guy, would he really achieve that same sort of output behind the Colts’ offensive line? Maybe Bell’s affinity with the Colts (Andrew Luck and Eric Ebron in particular) on social media has more behind it, with the Ohio native wanting to come back to Big Ten country for his next NFL home. For me though, I’m just not giving up precious draft capital AND then investing such a contract at a position that isn’t what it used to be 10 years ago. Draft another running back in the top 4-5 rounds next year and ride with a young quartet of Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins, Nyheim Hines + a 2019 RB (all Chris Ballard draft picks) as the new running back by committee. Also, would Ballard’s prudent spending really want to hand out a historic NFL running back contract to a player with suspension history and with serious mileage on his tires? It just doesn’t add up in my eyes.