Le’Veon Bell Saga Finally Over
Finally, we can move on from the Le’Veon Bell soap opera of whether he was going to show or not. By not signing his franchise tag this last Tuesday, he is now considered ineligible to play for the rest of the season. After being tagged for a second time, Bell was obviously upset that he either wasn’t traded or that a lucrative extension wasn’t signed. Initially, it started with just a holdout, similar to last season with many expecting he would be back by week one. After weeks and weeks went by, many thought he would return during Pittsburgh’s bye week. After that came and went, doubt truly started to grow and that doubt was confirmed on Tuesday. By holding out, he is forfeiting his one year, $14.5 million dollar contract as he hopes to be able to sign a lucrative deal as a free agent this offseason.
For the Steelers, they are probably just as relieved that it is over. While Bell is a once in a generation talent, they really haven’t missed a beat even in his absence. That, in large part, can be attributed to the success of running back James Conner. On the season, Conner has rushed for 771 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also has caught 39 passes for 387 yards and a touchdown. With Conner in the fold, the Steelers currently sit at 6-2-1, good for first place in the AFC North.
One Veteran Out, One Veteran In
Over the last couple weeks, the New Orleans Saints have been rotating through former Pro-Bowler wide receivers. Sadly, after signing Dez Bryant to a one-year deal, Bryant tore an Achilles’ tendon on the very first practice he attended. While Bryant is not nearly the player that he used to be, the Saints were hoping that he might be able to fill some veteran shoes, especially after having lost Ted Ginn Jr. to injury. Instead, Bryant now finds himself on injured reserve.
It didn’t take the Saints long to find Bryant’s replacement, though. Earlier this week, the Saints brought in Brandon Marshall for a workout and have agreed to a one-year deal with the former 6-time Pro-Bowler. Marshall certainly is not the player that he once was, but with Michael Thomas and Tre’Quan Smith also in the fold, in addition to the tandem of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, the Saints don’t need him to be a number one receiver, they are just hoping for some production and depth at the position.
Cooper Kupp Tears ACL
The Los Angeles Rams, one of the NFL’s strongest teams to date at 9-1, got a little bit weaker over the course of the last week. Sadly, one of their top three wide receivers, Cooper Kupp, was diagnosed with a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season. On the season, Kupp had 40 catches for 566 yards and 6 touchdowns. While the Rams are still loaded with receivers Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks, in addition to the pass-catching abilities of running back Todd Gurley, losing Kupp will still sting.
Joey Bosa Nearing Return?
Star linebacker Joey Bosa might be returning soon to the Los Angeles Chargers. Having been sidelined with a bone bruise all season long, Bosa practiced on Wednesday. Even though it was a limited practice, it had to be encouraging for the 7-2 Chargers to see him out there. In his first two seasons, Bosa had 111 tackles and 23 sacks. It will likely take a while to get Bosa back into game shape, but if he can return, it makes an already solid defensive unit that much better.
A return of Bosa could be even more important as another one of the Chargers’ star linebackers, Denzel Perryman, is out for the year after an injury to his LCL. Thus far this season, Perry man has 51 tackles and an interception, although he doesn’t have any sacks.
Hue Jackson Not Unemployed For Long
After being fired as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, it did not take too long for Hue Jackson to find another job. He has been hired by the Cincinnati Bengals as a special assistant under Marvin Lewis. While he will not be resuming his former duties in the system as offensive coordinator, he will likely be helping to ease the transition of another firing. Earlier this week, the Bengals fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Unfortunately, sometimes when your unit is struggling, and then you give up 51 points to an opposing team (New Orleans Saints), it can occasionally lead to a switch. With Austin out, Marvin Lewis will be taking over the defensive calling. As a result, Jackson’s role will likely be to ease the burden off of Lewis by Hue taking over some of the day-to-day expectations of the coach, instead allowing him to focus on the defense. What will be most interesting is the fact that the Bengals still have two games remaining with the Browns, who you know Hue Jackson would love to beat.