Le'Veon Bell Rumors: Ravens Never Made Contract Offer to RB Before Jets Deal

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2019

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) plays in an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

The Baltimore Ravens reportedly never made a contract offer to running back Le'Veon Bell in free agency, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Per Schefter, Bell and the New York Jets came to terms on a four-year, $52.5 million deal Tuesday night. Bell later confirmed the news:

Le'Veon Bell @LeVeonBell

I’m back in the green baby, let’s get it

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport was among those who reported the Ravens were "in" on Bell, and he even noted Tuesday afternoon that the competition for Bell was likely down to Baltimore vs. New York.

The 27-year-old Bell sat out the 2018 season rather than signing his franchise tender with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bell would have made $14.5 million last year had he signed the tender, but he valued long-term security instead.

His decision largely paid off, as he landed a deal with an average annual value of $13.125 million, which is second only to Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams ($14.375 million per year) among running backs.

The Steelers were already prepared to lose Bell, but seeing him sign with the rival Ravens likely would have added insult to injury. Instead, Baltimore will reportedly pursue other options.

Per Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune, the Ravens are favored to sign former New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram, who would join a stable of backs that includes Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon.

Bell is a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time First Team All-Pro who was highly productive during his most recent NFL season in 2017. Bell led the NFL in touches that year with 406 and totaled 1,946 yards from scrimmage to go with 11 touchdowns.

He has topped 1,200 rushing yards in three of his past four seasons, and he is also perhaps the NFL's best receiving back, as he's caught 75 or more passes in three of his past four campaigns.

Bell will join a Jets offense that was devoid of weapons for rookie quarterback Sam Darnold last year. New York was 26th in the NFL in rushing, and Bell figures to help the Jets immensely in that regard.

Baltimore finished second in rushing last season with quarterback Lamar Jackson leading the way down the stretch, and even without Bell, the Ravens figure to have one of the league's most dangerous ground games again in 2019.