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Running backs are as interchangeable as this year. So why did Kansas City take Le’Veon Bell?



During the rescheduled Buffalo-Tennessee game Tuesday night, the New York Jets announced the release of a two-time All-Pro returning to Le’veon Bell. The 0-5 planes were reportedly trying to find a team willing to trade for Bell, but general manager Joe Douglas apparently found insufficient interest. Instead of keeping Bell on the list, New York chose to cut it straight and accept a limit of more than $ 19 million. Although short, Bell’s time in New York was good for him: In 17 games played as Jet, Bell won 1.7 times more than he won in his six years and 62 games played as Pittsburgh Steeler.

On Thursday night, Bell landed on his feet, moving from one of the worst teams in the NFL to reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chefs. Bell signed a one-year deal with the team, according to Adam Shefter of ESPN. (Terms not disclosed.)

Strange move for Kansas City. The Chiefs just completed their first round of drafting (32nd overall) at RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire in April. It̵

7;s true that Kansas City is not doing well with football this year: They are ranked 27th in the expected added points (EPA) for fast play so far. But Bell comes directly from the team that qualifies dead last. What exactly do the bosses hope to gain by signing Bell?

Successful football management in the NFL has more to do with the scheme and the game on the line than the player who carries the football. And this season has given us a lot more evidence that in today’s NFL, running backs are largely interchangeable. Even the best paid players in this position have not offered much extra in the way of production this year compared to their backups.

Christian McCaffrey, the NFL’s highest paid back, fell with a high ankle sprain in week 2. In his absence, Carolina Panthers turned to midfielder Mike Davis, a former fourth-round pick on her fourth NFL team who averaged just 28 , 4 combined fast and receiving yards per game in over 49 games in the regular season of his career. Still, since Davis took over, the previous undefeated Panthers have won three straight games. During the winning streak, Davis scored three touchdowns and an average of 117 yards from a brawl – beating McCaffery’s career averaging 113 yards in the first round.

A similar story took place last weekend in Seattle. In the Minnesota game of week 5 against the Seattle Seahawks, the Vikings lost a star who returned to Dalwin Cook in the third quarter of a groin injury. Cook’s reserve assistant, Alexander Mathison, intervened and continued to rush for 112 yards on 20 runs, both career highs.

Before the season even began, the Jacksonville Jaguars severed ties with former first-round pick Leonard Fournett instead of turning to James Robinson, an untrained Illinois rookie. While Jacksonville have only one win of the season, Robinson has provided the team with three touchdowns and 103.2 yards for all purposes – a blackout of 101.1 yards, averaged by Fournette while with the Jaguars.

In Cleveland, Nick Chubb kicked off a stormy start to the season, averaging 5.9 yards per carry and 88.1 universal yards per game with four touchdowns for the Browns. But he suffered a knee injury in week 4, allowing reserve Karim Hunt. He skilfully completed the victory in week 5 against Indianapolis, scored a touchdown and collected 93 yards from the fight.

Examples are also not limited to 2020. In 2018, when Hunt was fired by the same Kansas City bosses who had just signed Bell, Damien Williams filled without missing a beat, averaging 107.3 yards from the brawl and 1.3 touchdowns in his regular season games, compared with 109 yards from the brawl and 1.4 touchdowns for Hunt.

That same year, Todd Garley injured his knee and missed the last two games of the season, in which he was in the early conversation for the league’s MVP. His replacement, CJ Anderson, is a journeyman for his fourth team of the year – played so well that Garley had fallen into a reserve role when he returned from injury during the playoffs.

Bell may not set a high price for the bosses, but history suggests that they have the answer to any return problem they may already face on the list – and probably not even going back.

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