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New York Jets Should Back Up the Brink's Truck for Le'Veon Bell


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The New York Jets Should Back Up the Brink's Truck for Le'Veon Bell

GARY DAVENPORTFEBRUARY 26, 2019

 

 

After a disappointing four-win season that led to the dismissal of head coach Todd Bowles, the New York Jets have a lot of work to do this offseason—on both sides of the ball.

Fortunately for Gang Green, they have construction supplies at their disposal. In addition to the third overall pick in April's draft in Nashville, Tennessee, the Jets are flush with cap space—over $102 million, according to Over the Cap.

Only the Indianapolis Colts have more.

When the legal tampering period opens March 11, the Jets need to put all that cabbage to work by making what many would call the biggest splash signing of 2019—one that would remake the Jets offense and greatly improve quarterback Sam Darnold's chances for success in his second NFL season.

The Jets need to Godfather tailback Le'Veon Bell by making him an offer he can't refuse.

After weeks of speculation that the Pittsburgh Steelers might use the transition tag on Bell in an effort to facilitate a trade, we know that isn't going to happen. And when general manager Kevin Colbert told reporters last week that Pittsburgh wouldn't tag the 27-year-old, Bell wasted no time taking to Twitter to make his feelings known.

 

Geez. Tell us how you really feel, dude.

With Bell officially set to hit free agency March 13, there's been no shortage of column space dedicated to where he might land. Teams from coast to coast have been mentioned, from the Buffalo Bills to the San Francisco 49ers.

Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News is just one of many sportswriters who have singled out the Jets as a potential landing spot:

"The Jets in 2018 did not get justifiable returns from Isaiah Crowell, and Bilal Powell will be a 30-year-old free agent coming off neck surgery. Elijah McGuire and Trent Cannon have flashed, but they are change-of-pace types. Sam Darnold needs a legit back to ease the pressure, as Baker Mayfield (Nick Chubb), Josh Rosen (David Johnson) and Josh Allen (LeSean McCoy) had to varying degrees as rookie first-round QBs. Bell could be a major asset for new coach Adam Gase."

He's right about the sad state of the Jets backfield.

The Jets were 26th in rushing last season with 101.4 yards per game, and Crowell's first year in New York was unimpressive. He averaged 4.8 yards a carry on the fewest totes (143) of his five-year career. The Jets can save $3 million against the cap by ending the Crowell experiment, and Matt Stypulkoski of NJ.com (h/t CBSSports.com) reported the team may be planning to do so.

 

 

Combine that less than imposing running game with one of the weaker receiving corps in the NFL (73 yards per game), and it's not hard to see why Darnold struggled as a rookie. He was set up to fail.

Darnold needs help. A back who can remove some of the pressure and serve as a safety valve in the passing game. Say, a tailback who had at least 1,200 yards on the ground, 1,800 yards from scrimmage and 75 receptions in each of his past two seasons.

Per Spencer Aber of Jets Wire, former Giants wideout Victor Cruz told ESPN's First Take that he thinks Darnold would benefit greatly from having Bell in the fold.

"He needs someone that he can dump it to and can create after he gets the ball in the open field," Cruz said.

Cruz also believes the fit works in the opposite direction: "I think the Jets are a good fit for him. I know he wants to be in a major market."

Markets don't get any bigger than New York.

Of course, there's something Bell wants even more than a big spotlight. Something he just sat out an entire season over.

Cold, hard cash.

 

 

As NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported in July, Bell turned down a five-year, $70 million contract from the Steelers that included $33 million in guarantees. It's believed he's looking for a deal that exceeds the $14.38 million in average annual salary and $45 million in guarantees that Todd Gurley got from the Los Angeles Rams.

Per CBS Sports analyst (and former agent) Joel Corry, recouping the $14-plus million Bell lost last year is going to be tough to do:

"Using the average of the available information about the rejected offer. Bell is essentially betting that there will be a team willing to pay him at least $72.5 million on a four-year deal, which has an $18.125 million average yearly salary. That's Bell's break-even point of the money he turned down from Pittsburgh. Such a deal would average more than Odell Beckham, Jr.'s $18 million per year extension with the Giants signed last preseason, which made him the NFL's highest paid wide receiver. Beckham's contract has $65 million in overall guarantees, where $40.959 million was fully guaranteed at signing."

That's a lot of zeroes and decimal points, folks.

Now, the reality is that Bell's likely not getting that dream deal. Not in today's running back market. But there's one team that's best-positioned to give Bell a knee-buckler of a contract without crippling itself relative to the salary cap.

That team is the Jets, and the reason is Darnold. Darnold's under contract on a rookie deal that averages about $7.6 million a season through 2021. That's three years (at least) in which the Jets will be paying their starting quarterback peanuts relative to many other teams.

Yes, the Colts have more scratch. But their backfield duo of Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines was decent in 2018, and the consensus in Indianapolisseems to be that Chris Ballard wants no part of Bell after he sat out last year—that the GM's comments on 1070 The Fan may have suggested Bell doesn't fit the "culture" there.

The relief Darnold's rookie deal affords the Jets against the cap frees up the money for Bell. Or at least most of it. And if general manager Mike Maccagnan front-loads the guarantees for Bell, the team will be out from under most of them by the time the bill comes due for Darnold. If Bell is not staying healthy and piling up gaudy yardage totals, buh-bye.

If he is? That's a good problem to have.

 

This doesn't mean there isn't risk involved in driving a Brink's truck full of money to the Casa de Le'Veon. It's a gamble to pay a tailback with an injury history and two suspensions on his NFL resume $15 million a season (or more).

The Jets have other areas to address—chief among them the offensive line, which allowed a middling 37 sacks last campaign, and a defense that is making a scheme switch under new coordinator Gregg Williams. And per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets have a "concern" that Bell let himself go in his year away and is 35 pounds over his playing weight of 225.

But New York's massive war chest and top-three pick leave plenty of room to add more pieces. The reports of Bell's weight ballooning could indicate interest as much as concern—an effort to influence the running back's price tag with a smokescreen.

And the simple, inescapable fact is that the Jets need playmakers as much as (if not more than) any team. Playmakers of Bell's caliber don't come along every year. It's an extra bite at the (big) apple for a franchise that's had about as much success with high draft picks of late as I have winning the Powerball.

Give that latest high first-rounder a fighting chance. Give Bell his money, and pull off the biggest signing of 2019 free agency. Rejuvenate the offense, and energize the fanbase.

And then we can talk about using the third overall pick to take a run at Antonio Brown.     

     

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We can afford to pay a premium because of our cap space and we should embrace paying that premium because signing Bell will give Darnold an elite player that’s better than good at every phase of his j

BE IT KNOWN that if the Jets sign Bell I plan to blame Macc for overspending on a running back and if the Jets fail to sign Bell I plan on blaming Macc for not taking steps to improve the offense and

Hopefully they back over the top of him. 

9 hours ago, joewilly12 said:

Yes, the Colts have more scratch. But their backfield duo of Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines was decent in 2018, and the consensus in Indianapolis seems to be that Chris Ballard wants no part of Bell after he sat out last year—that the GM's comments on 1070 The Fan may have suggested Bell doesn't fit the "culture" there.

Gary Davenport has a legitimate resume as a football writer but this column suggests he may have been doing a little bit of drinking this off season. Chris Ballard says he "doesn't fit our culture.  No red flags there.  Let's give LeVeon Bell Quarterback money, 18 million plus, Antonio Brown 17 million average annual salary, and burn the overall #3 pick to boot.  All this for two players,on a team with 38 players under contract, half of them borderline NFL talent. This is not five on five flag football.  We have to field a full roster next year, like it or not.  "A fool and his money are soon parted".  Only a fool thinks this "recipe for success" wouldn't end up being a disaster, if not initially, then soon after. What this "path" has a good chance of accomplishing is putting us in the same situation we're in now three years down the road [2021],  with two diva malcontents on the roster,  dead money galore and facing the reality of having wasted the "window" of  Sam's rookie contract.  This is a dangerous game to play.

9 hours ago, joewilly12 said:

And then we can talk about using the third overall pick to take a run at Antonio Brown

 

9 hours ago, joewilly12 said:

"Using the average of the available information about the rejected offer. Bell is essentially betting that there will be a team willing to pay him at least $72.5 million on a four-year deal, which has an $18.125 million average yearly salary. That's Bell's break-even point of the money he turned down from Pittsburgh. Such a deal would average more than Odell Beckham, Jr.'s $18 million per year extension with the Giants signed last preseason, which made him the NFL's highest paid wide receiver. Beckham's contract has $65 million in overall guarantees, where $40.959 million was fully guaranteed at signing."

 

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This isn't the free agency the Jets are usually scrambling around in signing Leonard Marshall, Ronnie Lott, Ed Reed, all WAY PAST THEIR PRIME, they are in position to sign a RB that was taken either 1st or 2nd in fantasy football every year. Fantasy might not mean much to REAL FOOTBALL, but Le'veon Bell is a better RB than the guy most Jet fans looked at as a god in Curtis Martin.

The Steelers were able to ignore Bells wishes because they knew they had a decent Oline & the 2nd best WR in the game in Antonio Brown, plus an up & comer in Juju Smith, and they drafted Connor. But guess what? They missed the PLAYOFFS FOR THE 1st time in years! 

Any Jet fan paying PSLs & taking their entire Sundays off to see the Jets deserves to see the best players the Jets Brass can field. Le'veon Bell is a top 10 player in this league voted by HIS PEERS EVERY YEAR in the top 100 players in the league! Just imagine if the Jets can trade back & land another stud offensive player, i.e. Hockenson, Jacobs, Metcalf, Deebo. The Jets offense has been unwatchable for years! Zero excitement, 2nd & 3rd and longs for quarters at a time. We have the money to fix the Oline + the money to land 2 absolute studs on each side of the ball. 

If we didn't have the QB in place & we're looking at Josh McCown starting, I'd agree & say why? But we have a young star in the making that deserves to be surrounded with talented guys that can make watching the Jets on Sunday exciting again! Bell is a NO BRAINER. 

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4 years 65 Million with 55 million in guarantees. Pay the $55 million as a bonus so it counts as a high cash payout allowing us cap flexibility in the future. The last year is basically a dummy year where he can be cut for $10 million in savings and he can try to cash in on a smaller deal with another team. 

Even with all that we’ll still have about 80 Million in cap in the upcoming season. The cash payout will allow us to choose not to over spend this offseason if the well dries up.

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1 minute ago, NYs Stepchild said:

Quality player.

Those are the guys the Jets are trying to avoid. 🙄

Exactly! It blows my mind. Fans act like it's their money they are spending. This is an organization that gave Mo Wilkerson (a lazy DT) 17 million but we don't want them to sign Le'veon Bell, a top 3 running back in this league. Gurley is toast, who's better than Le'veon now besides Barkley? 

Fix the damn offense! Instead of giving guys like Mo, and a burnt out Revis, huge money let's spend some damn coin on the offensive side of the ball for a change! Look at what Darnold was asked to work with compared to every playoff team besides the Ravens. It's ridiculous what the Jets have on offense, especially when Quincy went out. 3 freaking UDFAs & a 4th round RB, plus a veteran WR whose mind was on the 9th hole for god sakes! Our ROOKIE TE was the best player out there! Like a damn AAF lineup!

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12 hours ago, joewilly12 said:

The Jets need to Godfather tailback Le'Veon Bell by making him an offer he can't refuse.

I was 22 and was like, “no, I can’t be a profession writer. Those people are very talented; touched by God. No, I’ll choose another path.”

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12 minutes ago, T0mShane said:

I was 22 and was like, “no, I can’t be a profession writer. Those people are very talented; touched by God. No, I’ll choose another path.”

Tell the Lyle Alzado story again!

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10 minutes ago, MichaelScott said:

Confusing article. Titled with the premise that the Jets should sign him, yet the article is full of many reasons why they shouldnt. Let him be someone else's highest paid problem. 

I didnt read an article that was full of reasons they shouldnt sign him.  

Or see why he would be anyones highest paid problem.  He would help Darnold more than any player the Jets could go out and get.  At no cost other than money, which they have plenty of

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2 hours ago, kdels62 said:

4 years 65 Million with 55 million in guarantees. Pay the $55 million as a bonus so it counts as a high cash payout allowing us cap flexibility in the future. The last year is basically a dummy year where he can be cut for $10 million in savings and he can try to cash in on a smaller deal with another team. 

Even with all that we’ll still have about 80 Million in cap in the upcoming season. The cash payout will allow us to choose not to over spend this offseason if the well dries up.

No offense but the high bonus would be a nightmare bc of the amount of dead money you'd be putting on to the last 2 years. Here's how I would work the deal:

5 yr $75 million total. $45 million guaranteed. **Contract stipulation: The guarantees void if he is suspended for drugs or personal conduct**

$20 million signing bonus that hits the cap as $4 million each year.

Guarantee the first 3 years of the contract (2019, 2020, 2021). Here's what the yearly breakdown would be:

2019 - $9 million base (Guaranteed), $4 million bonus - $13 million cap hit 

2020 - $8 million base (Guaranteed) $4 million bonus - $12 million cap hit 

2021 - $8 million base (Guaranteed) $4 million bonus - $12 million cap hit 

2022 - $5 million base (Not guaranteed) $4 million bonus - $9 million cap hit ($8 million dead money, $1 million savings if cut before the season)

2023 - $25 million base (Not guaranteed) $4 million bonus - $28.5 million cap hit ($4 million dead money, savings of $21 million if cut.)

 

If you structure it this way you have minimal dead money after year 3 which happens to be when he hits 30. If he performs well the first 3 years the 4th year cap hit is not unreasonable. The 5th year is a dummy year to make the $15 million avg per year he wants.

 

This deal is really a 4 year $50 million deal. I don't think he will ever be able to recoup the $14 million he lost last year. I also don't think he's trying to bc the holdout was about getting long term guarantees. His perspective was that he could get $14 million to play in 2019 and possibly have a career ending injury or wait a year and get $45 million guaranteed. A year off from your NFL career is worth an extra $31 million.

This contract makes him the highest paid back in history by average per year, total guarantees and the highest payout after year 2 ($37 million) and year 3 ($45 million) It gives Bell the sense that his holdout wasn't for nothing and it also protects the long term interest of the team.

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2 hours ago, kdels62 said:

4 years 65 Million with 55 million in guarantees. Pay the $55 million as a bonus so it counts as a high cash payout allowing us cap flexibility in the future. The last year is basically a dummy year where he can be cut for $10 million in savings and he can try to cash in on a smaller deal with another team. 

Even with all that we’ll still have about 80 Million in cap in the upcoming season. The cash payout will allow us to choose not to over spend this offseason if the well dries up.

So basically each year there would be a $14 million cap hit from just the bonus. His cap hit would be roughly $16.5 million each of those 4 seasons and you would not be able to get out of the contract at all. I'm not sure if I want to pay a 30/31 year old RB $16.5 million. I don't know where the "$10 million in savings" is coming from. If he's cut after year 3 in your proposed deal the dead money would be $14 million with a net loss of $11.5 million after discounting his base salary the team would save. 

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As long as the Jets don't mortgage their future (as far as cap room) I don't see why they wouldn't make a run a Bell.

I know spending big money on the RB position is normally a foolish move, but we have so much cap room, I don't see why not. I'm pretty sure we can invest big $$$ in the O-line and defense and still sign Bell.

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1 minute ago, RichardTodd27 said:

As long as the Jets don't mortgage their future (as far as cap room) I don't see why they wouldn't make a run a Bell.

I know spending big money on the RB position is normally a foolish move, but we have so much cap room, I don't see why not. I'm pretty sure we can invest big $$$ in the O-line and defense and still sign Bell.

i think he's worth the money.  he'd help develop darnold and in a few years you replace him with cheaper options.  

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The Jets must give Bell a physical before signing him to any type of contract. If he is out of shape like the rumors say I wouldn't take a chance at signing him. Keep these things in mind about Bell, he sat out last year; he had no physical contact and the biggest question is, did he workout in all that time to stay in shape?

If Bell is out of shape, signing him will be a big major mistake. How long will it take for him to get back in football shape? Being out of shape can cause a major injury and then you are stuck with a player with a bad contract. 

 

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4 hours ago, joenamathwouldn'tcry said:

Gary Davenport has a legitimate resume as a football writer but this column suggests he may have been doing a little bit of drinking this off season. Chris Ballard says he "doesn't fit our culture.  No red flags there.  Let's give LeVeon Bell Quarterback money, 18 million plus, Antonio Brown 17 million average annual salary, and burn the overall #3 pick to boot.  All this for two players,on a team with 38 players under contract, half of them borderline NFL talent. This is not five on five flag football.  We have to field a full roster next year, like it or not.  "A fool and his money are soon parted".  Only a fool thinks this "recipe for success" wouldn't end up being a disaster, if not initially, then soon after. What this "path" has a good chance of accomplishing is putting us in the same situation we're in now three years down the road [2021],  with two diva malcontents on the roster,  dead money galore and facing the reality of having wasted the "window" of  Sam's rookie contract.  This is a dangerous game to play.

 

 

Don't  blame the Jets on the state of NFL salaries for players like Bell or Brown. These salaries were set long before they became available. If you want talent like them, you have to pay because everyone else has before you.

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Of course you pay him.

There really shouldn't be a question for the Jets on IF - it simply should be what's the best way to get him for the best price.

Adding a top 10 offensive talent, with a 2nd year, hopefully, franchise QB - on an almost talentless offense is an absolute no brainer.

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This is stupid. Curtis Martin was a third round pick for crying out loud.

Teams should only pay for a player like this if their scouting department is the keystone cops.

Their is a gem out there this year in the draft at RB.

I challenge our scouting department to find em!

And save millions to be used elsewhere.

Like an offensive line!

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34 minutes ago, GREENLANTERN said:

This is stupid. Curtis Martin was a third round pick for crying out loud.

Teams should only pay for a player like this if their scouting department is the keystone cops.

Their is a gem out there this year in the draft at RB.

I challenge our scouting department to find em!

And save millions to be used elsewhere.

Like an offensive line!

I don't see the point of this at all. We are so under the cap we can sign Bell and Brown and still have cap to address the OL.

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55 minutes ago, GREENLANTERN said:

This is stupid. Curtis Martin was a third round pick for crying out loud.

Teams should only pay for a player like this if their scouting department is the keystone cops.

Their is a gem out there this year in the draft at RB.

I challenge our scouting department to find em!

And save millions to be used elsewhere.

Like an offensive line!

A good deal for the Pats in the draft but he cost the Jets a 1st and 3rd pick a huge salary and avg 4 yds per carry and 8 td's (rushing and receiving) and didn't show up in big games.

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BE IT KNOWN that if the Jets sign Bell I plan to blame Macc for overspending on a running back and if the Jets fail to sign Bell I plan on blaming Macc for not taking steps to improve the offense and build around Sam Darnold.

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25 minutes ago, RedBeardedSavage said:

We can afford to pay a premium because of our cap space and we should embrace paying that premium because signing Bell will give Darnold an elite player that’s better than good at every phase of his job to rely upon.  

I don’t expect Bell to be as productive here as he was on the Steelers; we don’t have their line or their receivers.  

But seeing as we’ve got a 100 million dollars and a 21 year old franchise quarterback, the entire goal of this organization should be to put players around Darnold that will help him succeed.

In the AFCE, the Bills have 54 players under contract, the Dolphins have 54, the Pats have 57, and we have 39.  In the AFC, the next closest team is Oakland, with 50 players under contract.  In the NFC, the Rams and Seahawks both have 48 players under contract.

I think this clearly shows that while undoubtedly we have money to spend, it's not nearly as much as we'd like to think.  We've got to spend a ton just to field a team, and we're 11 players behind the next closet team in our conference, and 9 behind the next closest teams in the league.

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