Le’Veon Bell has not played in the NFL since 2021, but he is aiming to change that soon. The former All-Pro running back recently went public with his intention to return to the NFL.
Bell made it clear in a series of Snapchat videos that he will train this offseason in a bid to find an NFL opportunity. More specifically, though, he added that he is targeting a return to the Steelers, with whom he started his career. Bell played five seasons in Pittsburgh.
“And I’m gonna be honest with myself, I got to go out there and be like, I’m going to put my foot in the ground,” Bell said. “Do I feel it? Am I hurting? Can I go out there and really play again? And bro, I’m telling you all right now when I go out there and train in March and if I hit April and I make this decision to come back to play in the NFL again, mark my words down – I will be better than I ever was.
“And I will only come back for that one team. You all know who it is. I don’t have to say no team. You all know who it is.”
Bell’s Steelers tenure ended when he sat out the 2018 season, refusing to play on the franchise tag. That move allowed him to depart in free agency on a four-year, $52.5MM deal with the Jets the following year. His New York tenure (and the brief stints with the Chiefs, Ravens and Buccaneers which followed) did not go as planned, however. The three-time Pro Bowler has been out of football for the past two seasons, and he will be 32 by the time the 2024 campaign begins.
Those factors would weigh heavily against any player, let alone a running back. The position’s market has taken a downturn in recent years in large part due to the fall-off in production experienced by players as they reach their late 20s. In 2017, Bell received a league-leading offensive 402 touches, so past workloads would also be a concern for any interested teams.
The Michigan State alum has expressed regret for departing the Steelers, but it would be a surprise if Pittsburgh reciprocated his desire to explore a deal. The team has Jaylen Warren under contract for two more years, and Najee Harris is likely to have his 2025 fifth-year option picked up. With their backfield tandem seemingly in place for the short-term future, the Steelers are unlikely to have much interest in any signficant RB moves this offseason. If Bell manages to return to game shape, though, he could be a name to watch in free agency.