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Seattle Seahawks
Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

Analysis: Seahawks may need help at running back. Could Le’Veon Bell be an answer?

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 16, 2021

Former Baltimore Ravens running back Le’Veon Bell has amassed more than 6,500 rushing yards and 42 touchdowns since 2013.  (Associated Press)
Former Baltimore Ravens running back Le’Veon Bell has amassed more than 6,500 rushing yards and 42 touchdowns since 2013. (Associated Press)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Another week, another big-name veteran on the waiver wire, and the question of whether it might make sense for the Seattle Seahawks to put in a claim.

This time, it’s running back Le’Veon Bell, who was waived by the Baltimore Ravens Tuesday, and in some ways may make more sense for Seattle to take a gamble on than did Odell Beckham Jr., if for no other reason than the Seahawks’ possible immediate need at running back.

It’s unclear if Chris Carson will play again this year with coach Pete Carroll on Monday somewhat ominously deferring an update on Carson, who has missed the past five games with a neck injury.

“I’ll give you an update on that in a couple days,” Carroll said Monday afternoon. “I don’t have anything for you right now. I don’t have an update for you, but we’ll be revisiting all that by Wednesday.”

Carson’s absence this weekend meant Seattle played just two running backs in Sunday’s 17-0 loss to the Packers – Alex Collins and Travis Homer, the latter appearing mostly in third-down/2-minute situations.

DeeJay Dallas played only on special teams, and Rashaad Penny didn’t see a snap despite being active.

Seattle also has rookie Josh Johnson on the practice squad and able to be elevated twice this year if needed.

But with Carroll saying after the loss to the Packers that Seattle needed to run it more than the 11 times that it did and with Carson’s future unclear, Collins having dealt with a groin injury the last few weeks that limited him in practice twice last week and Penny at this point seeming like a nonfactor, maybe it would make sense to bring in Bell and take a shot.

Unlike Beckham, who was due $7.25 million for the rest of the year if claimed, the financial investment in Bell is minimal.

Bell was playing with the Ravens on a one-year veteran minimum deal and would be owed just $505,882 the rest of the season.

At that price, the Seahawks might think it worth it to see if Bell has anything left.

Whether he does is a relevant question.

Now 29, Bell seems past his prime years with the Steelers, one reason he is suddenly available again.

Bell played in just give games for the Ravens this year after Baltimore signed him in early September in the wake of injuries to J.K. Dobbins and Justice Hill, initially to the practice squad and then promoted to the 53.

Bell played in just five games, gaining 83 yards on 31 carries with a long of just 12.

He saw his most action in a 34-31 win over Minnesota on Nov. 7 when he had 48 yards on 11 carries and scored a touchdown.

He played 31 snaps in Thursday’s surprising loss at Miami but had just 1 yard on three carries, having fallen behind another veteran the team recently signed – Devonta Freeman – on the depth chart.

Word is the Ravens hope he slips through waivers and they can re-sign him to their practice squad but are waiving him because they have other moves they need to make on the 53-man roster.

Some wonder if the Ravens’ offense – built around the unique talent of Lamar Jackson – is the best fit for Bell and that maybe he could still thrive in a different scheme.

Bell played for both the Jets and Chiefs last year, averaging 4.0 yards per carry with 328 yards on 82 carries. But he did little for Kansas City in the playoffs with just 6 yards on two attempts and did not play in the Super Bowl.

We wouldn’t suggest at this stage that Bell will fix an ailing Seattle offense.

The broader point is to not be surprised if Seattle looks around for some running back help with Carson’s situation appearing tenuous as this is written, but with ominous overtones about his future.

Seattle figured it had its running back situation settled for the immediate future when he signed a two-year deal worth up to $10.245 million in March, with $5.5 million guaranteed.

But Carson has played just four games this season. After Carroll expressed optimism last week that Carson would be back, Carson instead was declared out on Friday with Carroll’s comments on Monday foreshadowing that some kind of resolution may be at hand soon.

Collins has filled in for Carson admirably but has been dealing with a groin injury, and Seattle is past both its bye and its mini-bye, with eight games in eight weeks left to finish the season.

Penny remains a conundrum. Carroll spoke excitedly of his potential impact when Penny returned for the Monday night game against the Saints on Oct. 25.

But Penny gained just 16 yards on 13 carries against the Saints and Jaguars and then only watched Sunday on a day when the Seahawks were grasping for any offense they could find, another apparent indictment of how the team’s 2018 first-round picks just never worked out as hoped.

Homer is needed as the third-down back. Dallas got some shots against the Rams and Steelers but has just 35 yards on 10 carries for the season and hasn’t seemed to convince the team he’s owed more playing time.

Seattle figures to have its shot to claim Bell when he officially hits waivers if it wants.

After the loss to the Packers, Seattle (3-6) stands seventh in the waiver claim order, which is also the pick the Seahawks would give the Jets as part of the Jamal Adams trade.

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