After failing to report to the Pittsburgh Steelers by the league-mandated 4 p.m deadline on Tuesday, Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell will become a free agent this March and the New York Jets should do whatever it takes to land him.
Prior to the start of the 2018 season, it had been decades since the New York Jets had a franchise quarterback under contract and after drafting Sam Darnold in the first round of last April’s NFL Draft, the team now believes it has just that.
And while having a high-level quarterback is critical, it isn’t the only piece of the puzzle that goes into building a playoff caliber team. With that in mind, the Jets still have a plethora of holes to fix and just like the team has longed for a quarterback in the past, it’s also been years since the team has had an elite level offensive weapon.
That, however, could all change come spring when Le’Veon Bell hits free agency.
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The three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro selection has sat out throughout 2018 thus far and after failing to report to the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this week, will sit out the remainder of the season and become a free agent in March. When that scenario becomes a reality, the Jets need to do whatever it takes to lure him to New York.
At just 27 years of age, Bell, despite sitting out this season, remains in the prime of his career and he’s undoubtedly one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL.
Skillful in both the run game and the passing game, Bell, who played his collegiate ball at Michigan State, is the first player in league history to total 4,000 rushing yards and 2,000 receiving yards through his first 50 games.
In 2017, his last season to date, Bell rushed for 1,291 yards on 321 attempts for nine touchdowns while also totaling 85 receptions for 655 yards and two touchdowns in that department. Sure, he’ll be criticized for his decision to sit out this year and his past history with injuries and suspensions may raise questions, but the fact of the matter is that he’s one of the best running backs in the league.
And when a player of his caliber hits the market, a team like the Jets, who not only have a need for a true difference maker like Bell but also have the means to sign him, needs to go after him.
Throughout the 2018 season thus far, the Jets offense has been downright abysmal. The offensive line has been weak, Darnold has gone through ups, downs and growing pains and the run game has repeatedly regressed.
Of course, improving the offensive line needs to be a primary focus for the Jets this offseason, but signing Bell would provide a massive boost to this team’s offense. As a dual-threat back, he would completely open up both the playbook and the field, while likely alleviating Darnold of such high pressure and giving the young signal caller a legitimate weapon.
In the end, the Jets may have to dish out more money than they’d like to sign Bell, but they have the ability to do it. The front office needs to pull the trigger and make this happen.