The fact that the Patriots haven’t been flagged as a potential destination for running back Le'Veon Bell makes the Patriots a potential destination for Le’Veon Bell, because when the Patriots have interest in someone it’s not known by anyone until they sign him.
On Thursday, a reporter asked Patriots coach Bill Belichick about Bell, who became a free agent on Wednesday.
“I wouldn’t be able to really talk about anybody that’s not a member of our team now,” Belichick said. “So I’d have to pass on that one. Whatever I’ve said about Bell before on the record, I stand by that, for sure.”
So what has Belichick said in the past?
Via the New York Post, here’s what he said in 2019, before a game against the Jets: “Bell’s clearly one of the top backs in the league. Outstanding with the ball in his hands, great receiver, just a really hard matchup player and does an excellent job of breaking tackles. He’s a hard guy to get on the ground, whether he spins, jumps over guys, makes them miss in the open field, puts his shoulder down and runs through them.”
Three years earlier, Belichick was even more effusive. “Oh my God,” Belichick said before a game against the Steelers. “Oh yeah. He’s a tremendous player, great hands, catches the ball, very quick, makes people miss, strong, breaks tackles, excellent balance, tough, doesn’t run out of bounds, fights for extra yardage, a great player. . . . But Bell’s as good as anybody we’ll play.”
If the Patriots don’t make a move for Bell, they’ll have to play him once (if he chooses the Dolphins), twice (if he picks the Bills), and maybe in the playoffs (if he selects the Chiefs).
The report of Bell’s three finalists undoubtedly comes from Bell himself. If Bell truly has designs on the Patriots, the last thing he’ll do is say so on or off the record, because the Patriots always make it clear to players and agents that if anyone says anything about New England interest, it’s over.