Future pairing? Le’Veon Bell, Lamar Jackson connect on social media

NFL

Could television speculation turn into free-agency reality for two AFC North rivals?

On Friday morning, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport commented on how the pairing of Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson “makes sense.”

Bell saw a tweet about a potential backfield match with Jackson and replied with a “thinking face” emoji.

Later Friday, Bell noticed that Jackson began following him on Instagram and responded with “It is a NEW ERA,” playing off Jackson’s Twitter handle “lj_era8.”

The Ravens are looking to add more explosive playmakers around Jackson, and Baltimore will have more salary-cap room going from Joe Flacco’s expensive deal to Jackson’s cheaper rookie contract. Bell would certainly provide a boost in the passing game and can turn a short Jackson pass into a big play, which is something that Baltimore lacked even after the trade for Ty Montgomery. Plus, there would be the bonus of having a motivated Bell, especially the two times he were to face his former team.

Bell tweeted out Friday afternoon: “it’s just a great feeling when you’re appreciated…isn’t it?”

But new Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta recently said he wants to be “financially responsible” with the cap. Signing Bell to a lucrative deal wouldn’t adhere to DeCosta’s philosophy. Bell’s ultra-patient running style also isn’t a great fit for run-option plays, which will likely remain a big part of this season’s offense. Other questions with Bell range from his durability to how well he’ll play after sitting out an entire season.

Baltimore should be in the market to upgrade at running back. The Ravens have made the best without high-profile talent in the backfield, going with Justin Forsett, Terrance West, Alex Collins and Gus Edwards as their top rushers since parting ways with Ray Rice in 2014.

It’s possible that Baltimore could look to the draft for a running back. But new offensive coordinator Greg Roman has worked primarily with veteran runners such as Frank Gore and LeSean McCoy.

Given the social media interaction Friday, it appears there is a mutual interest between Bell and Jackson. As for the Ravens’ front office, that remains to be seen.

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