Report: Jets ‘undeniably the favorites’ to sign Le’Veon Bell
By Justin Fried
Per a recent report from Connor Hughes of The Athletic, the New York Jets are the odds-on favorites to land running back Le’Veon Bell in free agency.
The New York Jets have been connected to soon-to-be free agent running back Le’Veon Bell for months now so it should come as no surprise that the team is reportedly the current favorite to land the three-time Pro Bowler.
A recent report from The Athletic’s Connor Hughes seems to indicate so as the report reads that the Jets are “undeniably the favorites” to land Bell this offseason.
As such, a potential pairing between the two sides makes a ton of sense. Bell will be looking for a hefty offseason payday and the Jets have the cap space to get a deal done, as long as there’s interest on their part.
To their credit, the Jets have shown regret recently for their past mistake in overpaying cornerback Trumaine Johnson which could make them hesitant to pay Bell the money he is looking for. Still, the team has also made it clear that adding playmakers on offense to surround young quarterback Sam Darnold is paramount in the team’s offseason gameplan.
Bell certainly fits the bill of an offensive playmaker.
The 27-year-old has long been one of the NFL’s top rushers twice being named a First-Team All-Pro and once been named a Second-Team All-Pro. Bell has three 1,200-yard seasons under his belt and has accumulated nearly 8,000 scrimmage yards in only 62 games. That’s an average of nearly 130 yards gained per game.
There’s no question that Bell’s ability as both a runner and as a pass-catcher would do wonders to help out Darnold and the entire Jets offense, but the concerns come elsewhere.
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Although just 27-years-old, Bell already has a ton of mileage on him with over 1,500 career touches. To put that in perspective, the soon-to-be 30-year-old Bilal Powell has just over 1,000 career touches despite playing in three more NFL seasons and over 40 more career games.
On top of that, Bell’s departure from the Pittsburgh Steelers went down about as smooth as sandpaper. The Michigan State product was franchise tagged for the second consecutive season and refused to show up to any organized team activities, eventually holding out for the entirety of the 2018 season.
Some have concerns about Bell’s willingness to play whereas others are concerned about his potential rustiness after not playing for a year. Both are very valid concerns and neither are issues that should be taken lightly.
That being said, the Jets don’t necessarily have the luxury of complacency. With time ticking on Darnold’s rookie deal and a roster void of much star-power, going after Bell might be too much of a temptation to pass up.
Even if it might blow up in their face.
Wherever you may stand on the issue, it appears that the Jets can and will make a serious run at Bell in free agency in a little over a week. Strap in Jets fans because this is about to be one exciting free agent period.