The NY Jets and Le’Veon Bell — a marriage doomed from the start — could be nearing its end.
At the time, the Jets made Bell the second-highest-paid running back in the NFL. New York bought themselves a superstar, but almost instantly, it felt like the franchise had buyer’s remorse.
There were two key figures in Bell making his way to the Jets. Former Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan and superstar ex-Jet Jamal Adams. Both of them are gone, and Bell may be next.
For whatever reason, Jets head coach Adam Gase, despite being in the building when Bell was signed, never seemed to be on board with the acquisition. And Jets general manager Joe Douglas inherited Bell once Maccagnan exited stage left forcefully.
From the time Bell arrived and put on his green and white uniform, the Jets’ were never a fit through no fault of his own. Bell has worked super hard and has said all the right things. He’s tried to make it work using the same type of patience he uses in his running style.
The fall from grace for Bell has been swift. Le’Veon Bell left a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Pittsburgh and an All-Pro offensive line, which knew exactly how to block for him.
With the Jets in 2019, Bell ran behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines and worked with an unproven quarterback. To make matters worse, the head coach/play-caller and Bell have had a complete disconnect from day one.
The NY Jets hoped to see a more productive Le’Veon Bell in 2020.
The hope in 2020 was that Gase and Bell would reconcile their differences and that Le’Veon would be able to recapture his former glory.
A severe reality check came in the form of Week 1’s opening loss to Buffalo, and with that came a hamstring injury, which will sideline Bell for the next few weeks. The journey back to superstardom for Bell instead sees him taking a detour to IR.
Once again, Adam Gase misused and misread his star player, this time, by putting him back on the field after an injury.
To his credit, Gase has publicly acknowledged his mistake, but the miscommunication issues date back to camp where Gase and Bell had an injury dispute over Bell’s use or lack thereof.
The only logical end to the Jets/Bell pairing is to separate the two. They were never meant for one another. Then, now or in the future. It’s the best thing for both parties.
Many will rightfully say that it’s only one week into the 2020 season, and after all, half the league is undefeated, while the other half is winless.
The truth is that Le’Veon Bell is the Jets’ most accomplished player, but as evidenced by this past weekend, the team is not ready to be contenders. Far from it. Le’Veon Bell deserves better, and the Jets need to part ways with him.
And the Jets’ are positioned to move on without Bell. Gase soldier Frank Gore is in tow for now, and the team drafted La’Mical Perine in the fourth round. Kalen Ballage has reunited with Adam Gase again.
Le’Veon Bell is not going to be a Jet in 2021. The team will cut him to avoid absorbing a $13.5 million cap hit. So the best thing they can do for their franchise and for Bell is to trade him by the midseason deadline.
Easier said than done? Perhaps.
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Firstly, Bell would need to get healthy and play well enough to entice potential suitors. Secondly, trading Bell by the deadline will require the Jets’ to eat some of Bell’s remaining guaranteed money in 2020. (roughly $4 million).
Lastly, The Jets would also need to find a willing buyer to make it happen. Would Joe Douglas dare pick up the phone and call New England? It’s a scenario that can’t be ruled out.
The return in a Bell trade will be meager at best. The team taking on Bell will probably only part with a mid to late-round pick. Knowing the Jets, Bell would probably end up back with his buddy Jamal Adams in Seattle.
That would make for an awkward reunion, but it wouldn’t be that much different than the awkward pairing that Le’Veon Bell and the New York Jets have been.
Except Bell would probably go back to winning. In contrast, the Jets will go back to searching for another superstar.