The moment star NFL running back Le’Veon Bell was released by the New York Jets, the classic CFL question was asked: which Canadian franchise holds his negotiation list rights?
The answer, at the time of this writing, is no one. In fact, Bell’s name has never appeared on a CFL negotiation list. That’s because it’s an extreme long shot Bell would even consider playing in Canada.
Responses from checking in with personnel men around the three-down league were telling:
“Nil, can’t see it.”
“Not even sure why anyone would consider it.”
“Too much pride, he will never come up here.”
“Doubt it — the dude has a lot of money.”
“Not sure he’s worth it, he’s only made $28 million in 17 games with the Jets.”
Through his NFL career to date, Bell has earned over $44 million playing for Pittsburgh and New York. That total prompted one talent evaluator to quip about Bell only being neg listed by a team north of the border to entice him to purchase the entire franchise, due to the financial issues COVID-19 has caused the league.
Money and the status that goes along with it are important to Bell. He sat out an entire season after the Steelers placed the franchise tag on him for the second straight year. In 2017 he played for over $12 million, however Bell wanted a long-term deal — $14.5 million wasn’t enough for him to suit up in 2018.
The Michigan State product was chosen by the Steelers in the second round, 48th overall during the 2013 NFL draft. Bell quickly asserted himself as a playmaker at the NFL level. He became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 5,000 rushing yards and 2,500 receiving yards.
Where will star #NFL running back Le'Veon Bell sign next?
— 3DownNation (@3DownNation) October 15, 2020
Through 79 career NFL games, Bell has rushed 1,493 times for 6,199 yards and 38 touchdowns while hauling in 381 passes for 3,160 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s produced 9,359 yards of total offence in parts of seven seasons — averaging 1,337 per year — and there are still 11 weeks left on the 2020 schedule.
Yes, every once in a while the seemingly impossible happens. Johnny Manziel shocked many by signing with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and later starting for the Montreal Alouettes. Quarterback Vince Young gave it a try in Canada as did Trent Richardson. Terrell Owens was interested, too. But Bell is different.
The three-time Pro Bowler and two-time First-team All-Pro is currently a free agent who stated he has a lot to prove and is ready to go with a new NFL team — the Chiefs, Bears, Bills and Patriots are the betting favourites for his signature. He’ll be seeking millions of dollars, not hundreds of thousands.
Don’t expect a CFL team to broach the idea by adding Bell to a neg list.