The NY Jets are reportedly not expected to keep Le’Veon Bell past the 2020 season and very well might be targeting a running back in the 2020 NFL Draft.
While it certainly wasn’t entirely his fault, Bell put together the worst year of his career averaging just 3.2 yards per carry while rushing for under 800 yards in 15 games played.
Running behind one the worst offensive lines in football certainly didn’t help, nor did the ineffective play-calling from first-year head coach Adam Gase. But aside from that, it became evident that Bell had lost a step.
That’s not to say that he isn’t still a very talented running back, but he’s not the player he once was. And even if he was, his talent was wasted on an abysmal offense.
The Jets seem to be aware of that as a report has emerged from Bleacher Report’s Connor Rogers indicating that the Jets don’t plan to keep Bell around past next season. Which if you’ve been paying any attention to the team shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
Bell was signed to a massive four-year, $52.5 million contract last March, but the structure of the contract effectively made it a two-year deal. The Jets have an out clause after 2020 that would leave them with only $4 million in dead cap.
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And considering that Bell is due another $28.5 million over the subsequent two seasons, it’s highly unlikely that they keep him around at that price tag.
Bell is still a good player, but it’s evident that his value isn’t nearly as high as his cap hit. And for that reason, barring any unforeseen circumstances, 2020 will be Bell’s second and final year with the Jets.
As such, Rogers expects the Jets to possibly target a running back in the middle of the draft as they prepare for life after Bell. He speculated that the earliest the team might take one is Round 3 where the Jets have two selections.
This strategy makes sense given the underwhelming depth currently on the roster. Aside from Bell, there’s no guarantee that any of those other four (yes, four!) running backs make the roster come the fall.
Perhaps former Philadelphia Eagles tailback Josh Adams has the best shot, but it’s fair to assume that he won’t be the primary backup. The Jets need depth and they’re looking for a player who could potentially fill Bell’s role as the lead back once he’s gone.
And the middle rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft could be their ticket to success.
The Jets met with two running backs prior to the draft — Illinois’ Dre Brown and Illinois State’s James Robinson. Of the two, Robinson is projected to be drafted higher — likely an early Day 3 candidate.
It remains to be seen as to how the Jets will address Bell’s anticipated departure, but Jets fans hoping for Le’Veon Bell to finish out his contract with Gang Green probably shouldn’t be holding their breath.