The signing was definitely worth it but Le’Veon Bell’s arrival likely keeps Clyde Edwards-Helaire from competing for Rookie of the Year.
It was a signing that everyone would make again. When the Kansas City Chiefs were gifted Le’Veon Bell on a platter for a one-year, $1 million commitment, it was such an obvious move that it was nearly impossible to find a negative—even on social media. After all, the addition of a former All-Pro to the league’s most dangerous offense for pennies on the dollar is a storybook sort of addition.
But even very good things can lead to some downsides and one such outcome affects Bell’s own teammate, rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
No one on or around the Chiefs—players or coaches, fans or front office members—should be concerned with anything but winning a Super Bowl. Edwards-Helaire is certainly included in that group, and there’s little doubt the first-year back would say all the right things, if asked. However, it is a bit of a letdown that the former LSU player will likely miss out on some hardware for which he was very much in the running before Bell’s arrival.
In the six games before the Chiefs signed Bell, Edwards-Helaire had carried the ball 107 times for 505 yards. In Week 6, when Bell was signed yet forced to sit due to COVID-19 protocols, Edwards-Helaire came alive with 161 rushing yards in a bruising road win over the Buffalo Bills. To that point, he also had 21 catches for 177 yards.
Since Bell’s arrival, Edwards-Helaire’s numbers have plummeted. It’s not just production but opportunities. He has 14 total rushes for 67 yards and 1 touchdown on the ground in the last two games for the Chiefs. He also has 4 catches for 27 yards. To break it down into averages, here’s a look at his numbers (small sample size alert!) before Bell’s signing with his numbers after the signing in parentheses:
- 18 carries/game (7 carries/game)
- 84 yards/game (33.5 yards/game)
- 4.7 yards/carry (4.8 yards/carry)
- 5 targets (3.5 targets/game)
- 3.5 catches (2 catches/game)
- 29.5 rec. yards/game (13.5 rec. yards/game)
Before the Chiefs decided to sign Bell, Edwards-Helaire was in the conversation for Offensive Rookie of the Year with the likes of Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson, L.A. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, and Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Chase Claypool. No other rookie running back in the league could approach his numbers.
Since Bell’s arrival, Edwards-Helaire’s numbers in the box score look more like the sorts of games we’re used to seeing from Darrel Williams, with scant opportunities adding up to a limited body of work.
What does this mean? Nothing meaningful when all is said and done. Edwards-Helaire will lose some production during his rookie year, but that will most certainly be balanced by three primary things. First, he’s going to stay rested and healthy for the stretch run when it matters most. Second, he’s going to learn from Bell week by week, a player who has earned plenty of hardware himself. Finally, if the goal is to “run it back,” everyone sets aside personal goals for the sake of winning the ultimate crown.
It just would have been nice to be able to add a Rookie of the Year award in the trophy case alongside the Lombardi Trophy.