BERGEN COUNTY, N.J.-
🙄 that ain’t enough to come run with the Jets… https://t.co/R0Ockg5Leh
— Le’Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) February 1, 2018
Let’s take “Tweets that Didn’t Age Well” for $300, Alex. Clearly, it wasn’t enough to ‘come run’ with the Pittsburgh Steelers, either. In an unprecedented game of chess, Le’Veon Bell was dealt a check-mate for the 2018 season by the National Football League. The extended stalemate between the Steelers and Bell and his agent lasted too long: he is ineligible to play for the remainder of this season.
Set to become an unrestricted free agent (completed 2018 season or not) at the conclusion of the 2018 season, Bell had reportedly turned down the Steelers’ final offer: worth a total of $70 million over five years (or $14 million per season). Bell is reportedly asking for roughly $17 million per season. That salary is more than double the average annual salary of the next highest-paid running back in the NFL: Devonta Freeman ($8.25 million per year).
So, which teams have the need for and can buck up the cash for Bell’s services? At +285, Las Vegas oddsmakers have pegged the New York Jets as the favorites to land the most expensive running back in league history.
Trying to get inside the player’s head…
- Bell held out to sign the big contract that never came in 2018. So you can hit the market as an unrestricted free agent in 2019, what’s the best way to make sure you suffer no catastrophic, career ending or altering injuries ? You sit out in 2018. Unconventional, but tactical.
Keep on doubtin the jets, it’s coo…game not over yet
— Le’Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) January 24, 2011
- Bell will be recharged and ready to prove to the world why he deserves the most lucrative contract for a running back (that would bankrupt most of the NFL’s teams) ever drawn up.
- In what would be his sixth active season, at 27 years of age, Bell knows that running backs, on average, have one of the shortest career lengths of any position. In sports-reference.com’s approximate value graph, maximum value is reached at 26 [years] and stays very high for the next few seasons. On average, a major drop off in value occurs in and beyond the ninth year for the position. Based on this, Bell having already had six years of experience, has a window of approximately three to four years left to cash in and set up the rest of his life.
Trying to get inside the members of the front office’s heads…
- With so many other holes to plug, is going to be near impossible for a general manger to justify spending almost double the cost of the current highest-paid running back. Period.
- Bell sat out an entire NFL season. What has his training regimen been while he’s been away? What kind of shape is he in? Look at what happened to Dez Bryant, who sat out most of the 2018 season. Bryant tore his ACL during the last play of practice with the New Orleans Saints… before he even played in one, single game. Bell (27 years of age at the start of next season) younger than Bryant (30 years of age at the start of next season), but ACL injuries do not discriminate based on age. Imagine paying a player $17 million per year to sit on the bench: he is unable to play due to a season-ending injury.
- A video surfaced of Bell’s teammates ransacking his locker (is it even really his, anymore with the name plate removed almost immediately?) following news that he would not be returning in 2018. In the video, among other things, his former Steelers teammate Bud Dupree is seen taking Bell’s Jordan cleats, looking into the camera, and thanking him for them. Dupre even tries them on and practices a juke move. The video has almost three million views.
Steelers players went into Le’Veon Bell’s locker, removing his nameplate and rummaging through items. Bud Dupree says thanks for the Jordan brand cleats. pic.twitter.com/gQaAu9hUPd
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) November 14, 2018
Obviously, Bell’s character has been dragged through the mud. His former teammates ransacking his locker does not help his image. What kind of teammate is he? What does he do for a culture of a team?
If to Bell or Not to Bell is the Question… What’s the Answer?!
While there are some concerns with signing a running back that has lost an entire season of NFL experience, with a guy like Bell, the pros clearly outweigh the cons. The Jets won’t have to worry about throwing money at the quarterback position for a few years. Entering his second season in 2019, Sam Darnold still has plenty of time left on his rookie deal. The Jets can afford him and still have money leftover to address positions they cannot (or choose not to) through the 2019 draft.
If Bell decides to sign with the New York Jets, one could expect a production drop-off. Besides the fact that he’ll definitely need to shake off lots of rust (no training regimen can replicate authentic NFL action), in looking at his last season played (2017), the Steelers had the twelfth-best offensive line (according to ProFootballFocus) The Jets’ unit was ranked thirtieth… third to last.
The fact of the matter is that Bell is an exceptionally talented player in the prime of his career. He is 26 years old. He is a player that would make an immediate impact on a team in dire need of a star playmaker to compliment Sam Darnold, a young franchise quarterback. He is a dual-threat that has logged significant rushing and receiving statistics throughout his career. Mike Maccagnan, if he’s still employed by the Jets in 2019, has to be ecstatic that a superstar may just fall into his lap. Bell’s signing might even save his job. You do not turn a player of Bell’s caliber away.