The Buccaneers suffered multiple losses in their shutout defeat at the hands of the Saints on Sunday, with running back Leonard Fournette and wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans all exiting with injuries. Now, they’ve reinforced at least one of those positions, signing veteran running back Le’Veon Bell on Tuesday, according to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero.
Bell, who appeared in five games for the Ravens earlier this year, will join Tampa Bay ahead of its Week 16 game against the Panthers, pending a physical. Fournette, who has been productive as the team’s clear-cut No. 1 this year, is expected back for the playoffs but is set to miss each of the Bucs’ final three regular-season games with a hamstring issue, per ESPN. With backup Giovani Bernard already on injured reserve with a hip ailment, Bell provides insurance behind former starter Ronald Jones II.
Widely considered one of the top backs in the game at the height of his Steelers career (2013-2018), the 29-year-old Bell has found far more mixed results since leaving Pittsburgh. The former Pro Bowler struggled as a starter in one and a half seasons with the Jets before finishing 2020 as rotational relief with the Chiefs. After spending the entire offseason on the free agent market, Bell signed with the Ravens in September after injuries decimated Baltimore’s backfield, totaling just 83 yards on 31 carries behind fellow veterans Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray.
Bell figures to slot in as the Buccaneers’ No. 3 back as early as Week 16, behind Jones and second-year back Ke’Shawn Vaughn.