For a second consecutive year, the Pittsburgh Steelers have yoked the franchise tag to Le'Veon Bell. The 26-year-old running back will earn a shade over $14.5 million in 2018, but expect him to secure a far more lucrative deal as an unrestricted free agent next season. SportsLine's intrepid oddsmakers have released lines as to where Bell could land in 2019. Let's take a look.
Which team will Le'Veon Bell be playing for on Opening Day of the 2019 season?
New York Jets -- 3/1
Detroit Lions -- 5/1
Indianapolis Colts -- 5/1
Cleveland Browns -- 7/1
Houston Texans -- 8/1
Arizona Cardinals -- 10/1
Oakland Raiders -- 10/1
Buffalo Bills -- 12/1
Pittsburgh Steelers -- 20/1
The Field -- 8/1
A flashy guy like Bell needs a flashy home, and few NFL locales are as flashy as the Big Apple. The Jets enter 2018 with the one-two gut punch of Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell. It's a perfectly adequate tandem; albeit one that won't scare many opposing front sevens. The duo amassed over 1,600 combined rushing yards in 2017 and each gained more than 4.0 yards per carry. While the position could use an upgrade, Gang Green has far more pressing roster needs. The Jets have plenty of cap space and an exciting rookie quarterback in Sam Darnold, but expect them to focus on shoring up that defense.
BELL, BIZ, DE-WOE
Can you name the last Lions rusher to hit the 1,000-yard mark? Back to that in a sec. Every year the Lions bandage the Achilles' heel position with guys they swear will be the second coming of Barry Sanders, and every year Lions fans are bamboozled yet again. Detroit, which ranked dead last in rushing offense in 2017 with 76.3 yards a game -- a full nine yards less than No. 31 Cincinnati -- currently has LeGarrette Blount, Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah on the roster. The starting job is Blount's to lose. At 30, Matthew Stafford's prime window is slowly closing. The Lions have salary space and the opportunity to embrace Michigan State hero Bell. I would expect Detroit to make a monster pitch to Bell after season's end. There's good value here at 5/1. By the way, the answer was Reggie Bush back in 2013.
After jettisoning Frank Gore, the Colts cross their fingers and pray Marlon Mack is the answer to their backfield question. Indy must rely on a strong running game to keep the blitzers far away from Andrew Luck and his surgically repaired right shoulder. Running back should be a top priority for the Colts but they never seem to acknowledge it. I'm not bucking trends. Pass on 5/1.
BRINSON PLAYS HIGH-LOW
Cue Patti LaBelle's 1980s empowerment anthem "New Attitude" when mentioning the 2018 edition of the Browns. Vegas has the Over-Under set at 5.5 wins, and sure, there's reason for optimism in Cleveland with the likes of Baker Mayfield and Jarvis Landry. But there's no whitewashing the Browns' cumulative 4-44 record over the past three seasons, and Bell has experienced plenty of success against this squad. Ditching the Steel City for Cleveland? I don't see it happening.
If healthy, the Texans could vie for AFC supremacy. Houston has an imposing defense, MVP-caliber quarterback, a top-five receiver and a decent backfield consisting of Lamar Miller and D'Onta Foreman. If Houston claims the AFC South, I'd expect Bell to be intrigued by the notion of playing alongside Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. Seems like 8/1 is a bit low.
Provided David Johnson is 100 percent, the Cardinals wouldn't appear to be high bidders for Bell's services. Ditto the Bears, who have the undervalued pairing of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.
Depending on the durability of Marshawn Lynch, 32, and Doug Martin, 29, the revamped Raiders could need Le'Veon to be their Bell ringer. After a dreadful 6-10 season, Oakland's new coach Jon Gruden might try to go all-in for 2019. Ten-to-1 sounds about right.
LeSean McCoy racked up 1,586 yards from scrimmage for the Bills in 2017 -- and that was with Nate Peterman behind center for two games! Running back is the one issue Buffalo can let simmer on the back burner.
I know Bell feels slighted by the Steelers, but it certainly doesn't appear -- judging by Bell's tweets -- any bridges have been burned beyond repair. Odds of 20/1 is bonkers. I might take this bet at even money.