The Green Bay Packers’ reluctance to sign big-name players from other teams in free agency is well-documented and is certainly well-known to Packers fans. General Manager Ted Thompson has made his biggest signings over the past several years in street free agency, picking up players who were cut by their previous teams rather than those whose contracts expired.
As a result, it was a surprise to this writer to open up an email discussing online sportsbook odds and see the Packers listed as possible suitors for one of the biggest names on the market this offseason: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell.
According to Bookmaker.eu, the Packers are one of seven teams listed as a possible landing spot for the All-Pro running back, who was taken a few picks before Eddie Lacy in the 2013 NFL Draft. The Packers come in with 26:1 odds, which puts them tied for the fifth-best odds among all NFL teams. Naturally, the Steelers themselves are the odds-on favorites at 1:8, while the Vikings (23:1) and Patriots (24:1) are in the mix. Tied with the Packers at 26:1 are the Jets, while the Raiders (27:1) and Browns (30:1) are the only other teams mentioned.
If the Packers did sign Bell, it would be almost certainly the biggest shock and deviation from Thompson’s typical free agent strategy in his tenure. Spotrac estimates Bell’s market to be around $10.5 million per season for five years, which would make him the second-highest-paid running back in NFL history (behind Adrian Peterson). Seeing the Packers involved in a bidding war for Bell’s services would be, quite simply, shocking.
Much more likely is that the Packers would try to re-sign Lacy, whose market was recently estimated at around $2 million plus significant incentives for a one-year deal.
Despite missing four games on a suspension in 2016, Bell still exceeded 1,200 rushing yards and 600 receiving yards, while scoring nine total touchdowns. Expect Bell to get paid, but trying to hit on the Packers to sign him is a sucker bet, at any price.