Two of the biggest playmakers in the NFL over the last few years are in very odd circumstances entering this offseason. Both Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are in the midst of a messy breakup with their current team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Although they seem to have played their last game in black and gold, Brown and Bell are dynamic game changers who will create a major impact wherever they land. Teams like the New York Jets, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles could all be potential new homes for the duo.
Brown, who just completed his sixth consecutive season with at least 100 receptions, 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns, is undoubtedly one of the best wideouts in the league still.
He recently requested a trade from the Steelers after a bizarre finish to the year. Brown skipped several practices leading up to Week 17 and was consequently benched for Pittsburgh’s must-win season finale.
Bell might have an even weirder situation.
The former All-Pro running back missed the entirety of 2018 due to a contract dispute. Bell refused to sign the franchise tag and after plenty of speculation, never actually joined his team all year. He’s set to become a free agent in March.
Where will Bell and Brown go?
You never know what can happen, but the odds would say that Brown and Bell start 2019 with a new team. Let’s take a look and examine the chances one of them heads east and joins the Jets, Giants or Eagles.
New York Jets
The Jets are the most exciting option because they could realistically be in the market for both guys. Quarterback Sam Darnold showed plenty of promise in his rookie campaign and would greatly benefit from having either Brown or Bell.
New York’s running backs consist of a group of Isaiah Crowell, Elijah McGuire, Trenton Cannon and Bilal Powell. All of these players are nice pieces, but none seem to have raw talent like Bell.
Le’Veon’s big-play ability would change the Jets offense and make Darnold’s life a whole lot easier. Bell is great at catching short, check-down passes and creating havoc for defenses.
Antonio Brown would help in the passing game, too.
The Jets have some quality receivers like Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, but would improve significantly by adding Brown as a true number-one option.
Brown can fly through secondaries on deep routes but is also lethal running underneath around the line of scrimmage. Darnold could take a big leap in his progression throwing to Brown.
Of course it’s difficult to say, but if Jets management can find the right price for Bell or the right deal for Brown, they might really consider it. Adding an offensive weapon of their caliber would help a young quarterback immensely.
Super Bowl odds
If they’re able to add one of these players, their odds should reduce a fair amount, even coming off a 4-12 season. The Jets could easily move to somewhere around +6000 with teams like the Broncos, Bucs and Titans.
The Eagles are another interesting potential destination.
Philly’s running backs are somewhat similar to the Jets. The Eagles have several solid runners, but no one who can dominate games every week.
Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles are becoming free agents, while Corey Clement, Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood remain on the roster.
Bell would be an instant upgrade despite taking the year off. Carson Wentz is another young quarterback who would love having someone like Bell at his disposal.
The Eagles receiving corps could use some help as well. Golden Tate, Mike Wallace and Jordan Matthews could all leave in free agency.
Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor make plays, but neither is someone defenses must scheme game plans for. Brown could change the offense and bring out the best in Wentz.
Again, the price would have to be reasonable, but if Philly could add another offensive threat to its innovative offense, the NFC could be in trouble.
Super Bowl odds
New York Giants
Even though the Giants would love to make their offense even more dynamic, they are the least likely of these teams to try to make moves for Brown or Bell.
With Saquon Barkley on the roster, the Giants won’t be looking for another running back for a long time. The explosive rookie had an incredible year totaling more than 2,000 yards of offense.
Unless something crazy happens, New York won’t be signing Bell.
As far as Brown goes, that has a slightly better shot of happening. The Giants more than likely wouldn’t be able to handle having Brown and Odell Beckham Jr.’s personalities on the same field, however, it’s possible they won’t have to be.
Fox Sports NFL Insider Jay Glazer predicted in a piece for The Athletic that the Giants would trade Beckham this offseason.
In what would be a crazy deal, the Giants and Steelers could potentially swap diva wide receivers and see if a change of scenery would help. Unfortunately for New York, a trade like this wouldn’t really change much besides getting older at the position.
If New York could somehow swing having Beckham and Brown together, then it might not matter who its quarterback is. Defenses would struggle on a consistent basis to even try to cover that combination.
Super Bowl odds
However, if they can add Brown to the existing wideouts on the team, the Giants will be closer to +2500 with the Cowboys, Texans and Falcons.