The Eagles may have gone from long shots to trade for Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell to odds-on favorites Monday.
A potential move that once made little sense for the Eagles suddenly became a legitimate option out of necessity with the news Jay Ajayi is out for the season. The offense didn't need a feature back two weeks ago. Now, the situation seems dire.
Yet, there is still some question as to how realistic it is for the Eagles to pursue Bell. The most immediate issue was always the salary cap, a problem that won't go away easily.
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The Eagles have just north of $4 million in cap room. Signing Bell to his one-year salary guaranteed by the franchise tag would cost roughly twice that amount for half the season, depending when exactly he decided to come in.
NFL insiders have pitched ways for the Eagles to create space. Jason La Canfora suggested they could trade Nick Foles, which assumes there's a market for the backup quarterback's services. John Clayton proposed restructuring Fletcher Cox's contract, which the Eagles reportedly did hours after Ajayi went on injured reserve – though Chris Mortensen stressed connecting the restructuring to Bell rumors would be "extremely misleading," and the new money is for extending current players.
Even if it can be done, there are additional factors to consider. The Steelers are said to want as high as a second-round draft pick plus a "good" player in return, which is a steep price to pay for a rental. And while Bell says he intends to report to the Steelers in Week 7, the Eagles need some type of assurance he would show up, preferably ASAP.
The chances of trading for Bell may have increased exponentially, but huge hurdles remain.
Given all the complications, the Eagles might be inclined to look at other possibilities. Former second-round pick Ameer Abdullah has fallen completely out of favor in Detroit's crowded backfield. The Patriots are currently stashing Kenjon Barner, who already knows the offense.
We're not exactly talking about All-Pros here, but let's be realistic about the Eagles' situation, too. Their record fell to 2-3, and with their next game on Thursday already, they could fall to 2-4 before a new guy even walks in the building. Is it still Super Bowl or bust?
There's little doubt the Eagles are taking a long, hard look at Bell right now, nor would it be unlike general manager Howie Roseman to pull off a blockbuster deal. But if anything does happen, it's probably at least a week or two away. Roseman would be wise to see whether they can get back to .500 first, perhaps even wait to confirm the absentee ball carrier actually reports to the Steelers before making a move.
With all that in mind, Bell to the Eagles still seems like a long shot.