Le’Veon Bell, who sat out the 2018 season after a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers, signed a four-year deal with the New York Jets worth $52.25 million, including $35 million in guaranteed money.
Bell’s overall deal could be worth over $61 million with incentives. In addition, he moves to the largest media market in America. Pro athletes playing in New York City reap the benefits of lucrative endorsement offers. Bell becomes the second-highest paid running back in the NFL behind Todd Gurley, who signed a mega-deal with the LA Rams worth $57.5 million over 4 seasons.
The Jets finished last season 4-12. They locked up the #3 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft for their ineptitude during the 2018 season. The addition of Bell is a huge move for the Jets, although, they were one of the favorites to ink him. Other teams interested in Bell included the Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Colts, and Indianapolis Colts.
WHO IS LE’VEON BELL?
Hometown: Groveport, Ohio
Position: Running Back
College: Michigan State
Draft: 2013, 2nd Round by Pittsburgh Steelers
Touchdowns (Career): 42 combined
Rushing Yards: 5,336
Pro Bowls: 3
Bell grew up outside of Columbus, Ohio. He did not get recruited by Ohio State, but stayed in the Big Ten by attending Michigan State. As the story goes, he did not have sensational stats playing for the Spartans. However, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin attended a MSU workout for prospects and liked what he saw from Bell. The Steelers picked Bell as the second-overall running back in the 2013 draft.
Bell gambled last year and decided to sit out the entire season to secure himself a better contract. He was due $14.5 million, but sacrificed that salary to become a free agent in 2019. Although the numbers might be smaller overall than Steelers offer last offseason, Bell sought out guaranteed money. The Jets were willing to award the star RB with $35 million guaranteed cash.
Over his career, no other player in NFL history has averaged a more total yards from scrimmage than Bell. Bell has 7,996 combined yards and he is averaging approximately 129 total yards per game.
Bell emerged as a valuable dual threat for the Steelers. The position of running back has evolved in the last few seasons. With more emphasis on passing, the offense incorporates running back screens and dump off passes to utilize their speedy RBs.
In 2017, Le’Veon Bell played 15 games and scored 11 touchdowns. He fell short of 2,000 combined yards with 655 receiving yards and 1,291 rushing yards.
In four postseason games with Pittsburgh in 2016-17, Bell scored 3 rushing touchdowns plus one TD reception. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry for the Steelers in the playoffs, which is approximately a full yard higher than his regular season average.
The New York Jets are banking on Bell leading them to the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Rex Ryan and QB Mark Sanchez (pre-butt fumble days) led the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship appearances in 2009 and 2010. The Jets were 4-2 in the postseason in those two seasons. They missed the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons.
After compiling a 14-34 record over the previous three seasons, the NY Jets fired head coach Todd Bowles. The tried to hire Kliff Kingsbury from Texas Tech (via USC) to become a QB whisper for young QB Sam Darnold. Kingsbury headed to Arizona, while the Jets tapped ex-Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase to lead Gang Green. With Gase focused solely on developing Darnold into an elite passer, the Jets tapped Gregg Williams to run the defense. The hard-nosed coach drew the ire of NFL suits when he got caught up in the New Orleans Saints Bounty Gate scandal a decade earlier.
Most recently, the Jets made a trade with the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders sent starting guard Kelechi Osemele to the Jets for next to nothing. The teams swapped fifth and six-round picks for Osemele. The Jets are seeking to bolster their offensive line to help protect Darnold. The Jets said they were willing to trade down in the NFL draft to give up the third-overall pick if the price is right. If they don’t trade down, the Jets need an edge rusher and have their eyes on Nick Bosa from Ohio State.
According to the Westgate Super Book in Las Vegas, the NY Jets are 60/1 odds to win the Super Bowl. Save your money. The Jets will struggle to win 8 games to finish 8-8 in 2019. Then again, that’s a vast improvement considering the Jets won only four games in 2018.
Two days earlier, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded unhappy star WR Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders for next to nothing. The Steelers will play the 2019 season without their top to offensive weapons. According to the SuperBook in Vegas, the Steelers are now 30/1 odds to win the Super Bowl.
After the NY Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns, Bell becomes the big dog in NYC.