We all want to be wanted. Le’Veon Bell is no different.
it’s just a great feeling when you’re appreciated...isn’t it?— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) February 8, 2019
Bell did not feel appreciated by the Steelers this year. Pittsburgh kept him on an expiring contract for each of the last three seasons. Despite Bell accruing more yards from scrimmage in his first 62 career games than any other player since at least 1950, he and the Steelers couldn’t agree on a long-term deal, and when he failed to show up for the season, he was clowned by his own offensive line.
As Bell approaches free agency, plenty of other players have stepped up to fill the void in his heart. Like Kirk Cousins before him, Bell is a two-time franchise-tagged player who has turned to social media to ask the world where he should sign.
The world is responding. Here are the teams who have thirsted after Bell the hardest, along with a thirst score that indicates just how parched they are. Last year’s THIRST index pegged the Vikings as the second-thirstiest team for Kirk Cousins, so this is a good indicator of where Bell will end up playing.
New York Giants
Odell Beckham Jr. is already a trendsetter in fashion. (Have you seen his Supreme x Louis Vuitton walking boot?) Apparently he’s also a trendsetter in recruiting; he posted this Instagram more than a year ago.
Notice that Beckham cajoled Bell to “ps change ur handle” from “@steelerrb26,” which Bell responded to.
Playful banter, right? Wrong! Two days later, Bell did change his Instagram handle, taking out the Steelers entirely.
On the one hand, “@leveonbell” makes more sense than “@steelerrb26.” On the other hand, if Beckham can convince Bell to change his handle, maybe he can convince him to move to New York. Unfortunately, Odell can take his eye off the ball at times. He thirstily tried recruiting his college teammate Jarvis Landry to the Giants last offseason, to no avail.
“To all you artists out there, who don't wanna be on a record label where the executive producer's...all up in the videos, all on the records, dancin'...then come to Death Row! u kno where u belong bruddda! https://t.co/e71AMELJCt— Odell Beckham Jr (@obj) January 18, 2018
Not only did he swing and miss with Landry, but LeGarrette Blount told Newsday that Beckham tried to recruit him to the Giants last year, which Beckham failed at as well. Now it’s a year later, and Odell is BFFs with Saquon Barkley. The Giants are set at running back, and Odell seems more focused on recruiting this liger.
Beckham has failed here, too. Last I checked, there have been no reports that this hybrid animal is interested in signing with the Giants. Beckham’s recruiting is worse than LSU’s.
Players Involved: 1
Early Bird Multiplier: 1.5
THIRST Score: 15
When Bell asked where he should play on Twitter, he retweeted the following answer and let it sit for three days (and counting).
That’s Damian Lillard, the starting point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers who hails from Oakland and has a not-small tattoo of the Raiders logo on his forearm. (You know his fandom is legit if it’s tattooed, but you really know it’s legit if he got a tattoo of the Raiders last offseason.) Bell may care about Lillard’s thoughts more than most. Lillard is the best athlete-rapper there is, and Bell has been trying to kick-start his own music career for years. If any fan can understand Bell’s ambitions, it’s Dame.
Unfortunately, Dame is even worse at recruiting than Odell. He tried to convince LaMarcus Aldridge to stay in Portland …
... and Aldridge left for San Antonio. Dame and CJ McCollum tried to recruit Melo to Portland in the summer of 2017 and last fall and whiffed on that too. And while Raiders quarterback Derek Carr liked Lillard’s tweet …
… we also know that the Raiders seemingly could not give less of a crap about what Derek Carr thinks. (And Carr might be too busy filming his next music video/bank commercial to pitch Bell on joining Oakland.)
Players Involved: 0
Famous Fans Involved: 1 (.5 multiplier)
THIRST Score: 3.75
When Eagles players saw this, they started running alongside Bell’s Twitter like kids following Rocky. Right tackle Lane Johnson responded …
You won’t— Lane Johnson (@LaneJohnson65) February 24, 2019
... as did safety Malcolm Jenkins …
... and defensive end Chris Long.
Philly fans have enough free-agent-related stress from Bryce Harper limbo, so it’s just cruel to add Bell into the mix.
Players Involved: 3
GIF Multiplier: 1.2
THIRST Score: 14
New York Jets
Jets safety Jamal Adams is the most online player in the NFL. He’s also the league’s most relentless recruiter. He ended the year with a rant on how the Jets roster needed “more dogs” and said Bell was one of the free agents the team needed. Unlike many of his fellow recruiters, Adams is not ashamed to follow up.
Adams tweeted at Bell in January, then Adams and his agent had lunch with Bell’s agent, Adisa Bakari, according to the New York Post. He stepped it up further during the week leading into the Super Bowl ...
... and finally got a response from the man himself.
ayeeee, say no more— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) February 5, 2019
Then he tried to set up dinner like the tweet was a Google Calendar invite.
Linking up in LA soon so we can talk business! Dinner on me! https://t.co/6OSGZO9pzL— Jamal Adams (@TheAdamsEra) February 5, 2019
No word on whether they had dinner, but Adams hopped right back on Bell’s Twitter this week.
Come help us win this Super Bowl brotha!!! Luv https://t.co/oOf0zqjlL9— Jamal Adams (@TheAdamsEra) February 23, 2019
Surely Adams sees a kindred spirit in Bell as one of the few players more active on Twitter than the running back.
Players Involved: 1
Try-Hard Multiplier: 3.0
THIRST Score: 18
The Colts are projected to have the most cap space this offseason, making them the richest suitor at the ball, and Bell has been trying to dance with them since training camp. Even as far back as August, he posted eyes emoji on a video of Andrew Luck throwing.
Le'Veon Bell once again, eyeing Andrew Luck and the Colts. pic.twitter.com/w0REzfcuCZ— Indy SportsOne (@IndySportsOne) August 9, 2018
A month later, he once against posted the eyes emoji on another NFL Instagram featuring Luck’s return.
How did I miss this. Le'Veon Bell continues. pic.twitter.com/s9KHC9EFne— Indy SportsOne (@IndySportsOne) September 10, 2018
At this point, Bell’s thirst has been established. But the flirtations went up a notch when Bell commented on a House of Highlights post (this one of Colts celebrating a touchdown with a Fortnite dance). His love was requited by former Colts punter Pat McAfee and current tight end Eric Ebron, who both started pitching him on Indianapolis.
Restaurants! Cap space! Not necessarily in that order!
Just a few days later, the NFL’s account wished Luck a happy birthday. Bell commented, and Ebron came flying in to say he should join the Colts.
Ebron @-ing Le’Veon in a comment twice in the same week was the NFL recruiting equivalent of sending a bunch of unanswered texts to a person you’re flirting with—way too desperate and needy. Bell’s Indy thirst diminished for months, and it seemed like the Colts connection was lost. Until November, when Bell reignited it himself.
It turns out that Bell’s thirst for Indianapolis can’t be quenched.
Players Involved: 2
Mutual Interest Multiplier: 10
THIRST Score: 140