Le'Veon Bell, Ravens Reportedly Agree to Contract After Dobbins, Hill Injuries

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2021

Kansas City Chiefs running back Le'Veon Bell (26) runs in the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Le'Veon Bell's prime may be in the rearview mirror, but he reached his first Super Bowl during the 2020 campaign and has now reportedly earned a new contract.

The Baltimore Ravens signed the 29-year-old to their practice squad Tuesday and will "likely" add him to the active roster when he is "ready," per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Schefter noted the season-ending injuries to J.K. Dobbins and Justice Hill played a role in the decision.

It wasn't that long ago that Bell was one of the best playmakers in the league when he played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2013 through 2017. He was a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro first-team selection during that span and was largely considered the gold standard of versatile running backs.

He ran for more than 1,200 yards in 2014, 2016 and 2017 while tallying more than 600 receiving yards in each of those seasons as well.

The Michigan State product surely would have put up similar numbers in 2015 as well, but injuries limited him to just six games.

However, things changed in 2018 when he sat out the season because of a contract dispute and never took the field again for the Steelers. He joined the New York Jets for the 2019 campaign and posted a career-worst 3.2 yards per carry, and he wasn't much better in the early going in 2020.

New York released him in October, and the Kansas City Chiefs signed him later that month.

Bell wasn't much of a factor in the loaded Chiefs offense and finished with 254 rushing yards, 99 receiving yards and two touchdowns in nine regular-season games. Carries were limited in a backfield that also featured Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams, and the aerial attack almost always took precedence with Patrick Mahomes throwing to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.

That didn't leave much room for Bell, even if he did make his first career Super Bowl with the team.

Baltimore surely hopes he rediscovers some of the old form he demonstrated as a member of the Steelers, especially if he has a bigger role than he did with Kansas City.

That role may eventually be there without Dobbins and Hill, although the presence of Gus Edwards meant Baltimore wasn't desperate for another starter in the immediate aftermath.

Look for Bell to be more of a change-of-pace back with Edwards and quarterback Lamar Jackson remaining as the top options, but he could feature heavily in the offense without Dobbins.