Despite Oakland native Damian Lillard's best efforts, the Raiders reportedly are not the favorites to sign Le'Veon Bell in free agency.
The New York Jets are "undeniably the favorite" to sign the running back, a "high-profile agent" told The Athletic's Connor Hughes. The Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are "also in the running," Hughes reported citing another agent.
The Jets are armed with over $102 million in salary-cap space, according to OverTheCap.com, which is the second-most of any NFL team this offseason. But as it stands right now, the Raiders have much more space ($72,915,680) than the Bucs ($15,633,489) or the Eagles ($4,183,815).
All four teams have a clear need in the offensive backfield, too, and boast catching staffs that like to get the running back involved in the passing game. Raiders running back Jalen Richard, for instance, was targeted more times (81) than all but two offensive players on the team last season. In the last three seasons in which he played at least 12 games, Bell was targeted no fewer than 94 times.
It's conceivable that Richard's presence on the roster would help the Raiders' pitch, too. Part of the reason Bell sat out of all of 2018 was because he was concerned about his workload with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2017, Ball had 406 touches (rushes and receptions) and become one of only 43 players in NFL history to have 400-plus touches in a season.
Should Richard re-sign as a restricted free agent, he could take some off of Bell's plate. The Jets, Eagles, and Bucs don't exactly have alternatives in place on their rosters to share (some of) the load, but that could change in free agency.
The Raiders might not be among the reported frontrunners, but they remain a good fit on paper.