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Glenn Clark: Ravens Should Pursue Le'Veon Bell

February 12, 2019
To my knowledge, no reputable football reporter of any sort has positively connected the Baltimore Ravens to soon-to-be free-agent running back Le'Veon Bell. 

This seemingly ubiquitous conversation on Baltimore sports social media the last few days has been based almost entirely on a hypothetical segment from the "Good Morning Football" show on NFL Network. 

I don't say that to try to dismiss the topic. Far from it. I just think that as we discuss it, we remind ourselves that it's little more than internet fodder at the moment. But the weeks leading up to NFL free agency might as well be known as #InternetFodderSZN, really. 

So, let's talk about it. Hypothetically, should the Ravens pursue Le'Veon Bell? 

Of course they should. 

Now, there are plenty of legitimate questions that need to be discussed surrounding this hypothetical. How much would it cost? (Presumably a lot.) How many other teams are interested? (Again … presumably a lot.) 

If there were ever a situation in which a team should be willing to invest massive money in a running back, the current situation in Baltimore would be the one. While the Ravens will probably want to open up their offense a bit from what at least felt like an "all-run" scheme during their first half-season with Lamar Jackson under center, we have no idea if Jackson's skill set will allow him to become a prolific passer. 

And considering the team has committed to Greg Roman as its offensive coordinator and Roman's teams have finished in the bottom five of the NFL in passing attempts in the five full years he's been a coordinator, it's fairly safe to say the Ravens intend to run the ball an awful lot moving forward. 

Perhaps there is still some conventional wisdom that says teams shouldn't invest a lot of dollars in the running back position. Consider the Los Angeles Rams did just that with Todd Gurley only to pluck C.J. Anderson off the trash heap late this season and get extremely similar production from Anderson as they did Gurley. 

Or consider the production the Ravens got this season from undrafted rookie Gus Edwards, one of five backs used prominently by the team in 2018. But again, if there were ever a team in a perfect situation to spend big money on a back, it would be these Ravens. 

Signing Bell would likely not only cost the Ravens the ability to try to upgrade other positions, it would likely require them to part ways with a player or two currently on the cap bubble. (In fairness, they might do that anyway.) But Bell may well be worth it. 

So those are the reasonable concerns. Yet for some reason, the one I seem to be seeing the most about is a far more unreasonable concern. 

I don't think the Ravens should pass on Le'Veon Bell because he's a bad teammate. That's because I don't think Le'Veon Bell is a bad teammate. 

At least a number of Ravens fans still appear to be turned off by Bell's decision to sit out 2018 after not agreeing to a long-term deal with the Steelers. The theory is that they don't want to sign a player who has shown himself not just willing to put his own interests above those of the team, but has already acted on that willingness. 

I mean, the Ravens as a franchise adopted Bo Schembechler's famous "The Team, The Team, The Team" catchphrase just a few years ago to display the mentality that no one is bigger than the team. So how could they sign a player who clearly believes he is … just that? 

I get the theory. I just also happen to think it's bunk. 

You see, it was "the team" (in this case, the Pittsburgh Steelers) that wanted to sign him to a deal which only guaranteed him $10 million up front. If Bell had gotten hurt while playing on that deal last year, "the team" wouldn't have paid him a penny more. "The team" would have been happy to wash their hands knowing they had made a wise business decision. But the player chose to do what was best for him. 

I'll never be angry about such a decision from any player no matter what team he's on. 

Those Steelers teammates that spoke out against Bell during the season -- like Maurkice Pouncey and Ramon Foster -- are the guys I'd be less inclined to have on my team. They're the guys who threw their (at the time still) teammate under the bus. I'd pass on that on my team. 

But I'm never going to be mad at a football player for trying to do what's best for him. If Bell signs in Baltimore, it's going to happen because the Ravens gave him a lot of money. But if in three years he tries to get more, I'll understand that too. That's the nature of the business. 

I just want good football players. Le'Veon Bell is most certainly one of those.  

Follow Glenn Clark on Twitter @GlennClarkRadio

Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox