The New York Jets could be looking to trade star running back Le’Veon Bell in the offseason. If so, what could a possible Bell trade look like?
Jets fans rejoiced when the star tailback was signed to a hefty four-year, $52.5 million contract this past March.
The hope was that Bell would give the Jets the dynamic playmaker on offense that they had been searching years for. And the hope was that he would also make life easier for young quarterback Sam Darnold.
Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what happened.
Bell struggled to the worst year of his career by a wide margin as the three-time Pro Bowler finished with just 789 rushing yards and three touchdowns on a woeful 3.2 average yards per carry. On top of that his receiving numbers were all career lows as well.
For a variety of reasons, Bell simply did not find success in his first season in New York. Be it because of an abysmal offensive line or an offensive scheme that didn’t maximize his strengths, it just didn’t work out.
And now, it might be better off that both sides part ways this offseason. Based on recent reports, that seems to be the line of thinking from both Bell and the Jets.
But how exactly could a Le’Veon Bell trade work?
After all, the talented running back still carries a massive salary and it’s hard to imagine much interest in him after the year he just put together. Moreover, what teams could even be interested or have the cap space to make a deal work?
Bell will carry a cap hit of over $15 million next season followed by cap hits of $13.5 million in 2021 and $15 million in 2022. There is a possible out in his contract after the 2020 season that would require just $4 million in dead cap, but there’s no getting rid of him before then.
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Looking at teams that could potentially afford Bell and would have interest, two organizations spring to mind. First is the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts aren’t paying top dollar to a quarterback and are projected to have nearly $100 million in cap space this offseason. They showed interested in signing Bell last offseason and could be a reasonable team to target if they go down that route.
The second team is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers aren’t paying top dollar to a quarterback yet, but are expected to do so if they place the franchise tag on Jameis Winston. Even so, they should have close to $75 million+ in cap space at their disposal.
Tampa Bay has been searching for a running back for years and could take this opportunity to add another dynamic playmaker to their offense. Both the Indianapolis and Tampa Bay systems would be a huge upgrade for Bell and it’s likely he’d see more production with them than he would with the Jets next year.
But what could the Jets feasibly expect in return?
The short answer is not much.
Bell’s contract makes him difficult to move and no matter what, the Jets will almost assuredly need to take on some of his salary for next season. Either way, the Jets will be paying for Bell in some way which makes a potential trade less sensible.
The Jets could reasonably expect a mid-round pick in return for the expensive running back who isn’t getting any younger. Perhaps a fourth-round pick is as high as teams could go.
Any more than that might be a pipe dream, unfortunately.
Jets fans expecting a package of top-100 draft picks should probably reconsider as Bell’s contract and poor production last season have undoubtedly hurt his value around the league.
With that in mind, it makes you wonder why the Jets appear so deadset on unloading Bell. Regardless, that does appear to be the route we’re heading down.
If the New York Jets do trade Le’Veon Bell, don’t expect a very good return on investment.