Although he is a great player, Le’Veon Bell would not be a great fit for the New York Jets. The organization should avoid pursuing him in free agency.
At first glance, it seems like a simple equation.
Bad teams improve when they add good players. Therefore bad teams shouldn’t pass up on the chance to add talent anywhere it can be found.
The New York Jets are a bad football team. Le’Veon Bell is a good player (a great one actually) who just hit the free agent market. Many Jets fans understandably reason that their team should do whatever it takes to sign Bell.
However, in the complex world of the NFL, simple equations do not cut it. Every decision carries with it a set of pros and cons that must be carefully considered. And when you do that math, it quickly becomes clear that Bell isn’t worth it.
In particular, Bell is not worth his hefty price tag. Last season, Bell refused to accept a $14+ million franchise tag from the Steelers. He is now seeking a long term deal, with an annual yearly value probably north of $15 million.
It would be a horrifying misallocation of resources for the Jets to offer any running back that kind of money.
Although the Jets do have tons of cap space (second most in the league), they also currently have the fewest players under contract of any team. Under new head coach Adam Gase and new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the Jets are looking to reshape most of their roster. In order to do so and remain under the salary cap, the Jets will need to carefully distribute their remaining resources across a wide variety of needs.
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A quick glance at the Jets current list of free agents confirms how many needs they have. At the very least, they will need two new offensive linemen, two new cornerbacks, two new wide receivers, a new kicker, a new backup quarterback, and a few new defensive linemen.
This task is not nearly as hopeless as it seems as the Jets will be able to fill many of these holes from their own free agents and from the upcoming draft. Just the same, all those new contracts will cost money against the cap.
With Bilal Powell hitting free agency and Isaiah Crowell potentially being released, the Jets can and should pursue a running back in free agency. The running back free agency market is rich with talent this year, featuring players like Tevin Coleman, Latavius Murray, Mark Ingram and many more.
Besides, the Steelers didn’t even really miss Bell last season. James Conner filled in admirably at a microscopic fraction of the cost. Good running back production in the NFL can be found without breaking the bank.
The Jets do have tons of cap space. They could use that money to make splashy exciting moves like adding Bell, or they could use it to build a balanced roster with talent at every position. If winning is truly their primary goal, they will choose the latter.