NY Jets: Ranking the 53-man roster — No. 5 Le’Veon Bell

NY Jets, Le'Veon Bell (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
NY Jets, Le'Veon Bell (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /

After another lost NY Jets season, it’s time to evaluate this 53-man roster. This daily ranking continues with No. 5, running back Le’Veon Bell.

The NY Jets‘ biggest story of the 2019 season was the free-agent signing of running back Le’Veon Bell.

The Pittsburgh Steelers star via Michigan State — the 48th overall pick in the 2013 Draft — sat out 2018 in a contract dispute. Questions arose if whether the three-time All-Pro’s season off would hurt his play or if it saved his hammered body.

In each of five seasons in black-and gold, Bell averaged over 1,000 rushing yards. In green-and-white this year, he never had a 100-yard game — his best game 21 carries for 87 yards in a Thursday night embarrassment to Lamar Jackson‘s Baltimore Ravens.

Bell’s overall 245 carries for 789 yards averaged just 3.2 yards per attempt — not exactly moving the chains.

Career-wise, Bell was most lethal catching balls out of the backfield. But in 2019 his most productive receiving day was 10 catches for 61 yards in Week 2 against Cleveland.

But Bell was the focus of every opponent’s defensive gameplan, which plays into his robust 73.9 Pro Football Focus grade.

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The NY Jets must decide whether Bell was a victim of an anemic offensive line or if he’s yet to recover from his time away from the game.

Sure, the rushing offense performed ineptly blocking for Bell’s deceptive stand-and-deliver style. But whenever Bilal Powell hit the hole, the problems seemed less glaring.

That leads to a discussion of the oil-and-water non-relationship between Bell and Adam Gase. The head coach of the NY Jets was correct in his assessment that Gang Green vastly overpaid for the running back.

But Gase also deserves considerable blame for his seeming misuse of a star in order to prove a point, and for his inability/unwillingness to play to his roster’s strengths. Do you think Bill Belichick or Andy Reid get caught up in such ego-driven decisions?

There’s plenty of on-field reasons to bring Bell back for 2020. Off the field, Bell has proven his maturity — one newsworthy Boonton Lanes midnight bowling incident notwithstanding.

For the Jets to trade Bell, they would have to eat a chunk of his salary. But if money’s not an issue, a trade that makes the most sense would be Bell plus cash and a Day 2 selection to the running back-starved Washington Redskins for All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams.

The only problem with going that route is that Williams refused to play for Dan Snyder due to issues with the team medical staff. So why would he accept a move to the home of the Kelechi Osemele fiasco?

Next. New York Jets: 3-round 2020 NFL mock draft; grades, analysis

Le’Veon Bell is the most impressive offensive weapon this franchise has had since Curtis Martin. Whether he remains to deliver such promise is the NY Jets’ $52 million question.