Le'Veon Bell

AFC East Notes: Bell, Bills, Flores

The Bell has rung. As Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets, Le’Veon Bell has arrived at the Jets‘ facility in advance of tomorrow’s mandatory minicamp. There was never a chance that Bell would fail to show up for minicamp, but given the drama that has followed him from Pittsburgh to New York, it’s still noteworthy, if for no other reason than to see how he will interact with new head coach Adam Gase.

Now for several more items from the AFC East:

  • Speaking at Jim Kelly‘s annual charity golf tournament this morning, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he believes that a new stadium is essential to the stability of a franchise (via Matthew Fairburn of The Athletic). With respect to the Bills specifically, Goodell made it very clear that team ownership will need to address the club’s stadium situation at some point in the near future to keep the Bills in Buffalo. Goodell has made similar remarks in the past, but the article — which includes more of Goodell’s comments — are well worth a read for Bills fans, as it also details the unique challenges that ownership faces in meeting Goodell’s demands.
  • Brian Flores is making a strong first impression with the Dolphins, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. A number of players are less than keen on the old-school mentality and the demanding nature of the new coaching staff, but others are enjoying it, and Flores himself has drawn rave reviews. Players have lauded the rookie head coach both publicly and privately, which is a bit more meaningful for Flores than it might be for another HC. The Dolphins are in full rebuild mode, so Flores will be judged not necessarily on wins and losses — at least not for a year or two — but on how his players respond to him and compete for him.
  • In the same piece linked above, Jackson notes that the Dolphins are taking a wait-and-see approach with several players entering the final years of their contracts like RB Kenyan Drake and WR Jakeem Grant.

Adam Gase Talks Front Office, Bell, Darnold

Adam Gase was named as the Jets’ new head coach back in January, and we’re confident that the 41-year-old had no idea how the next few months would unfold.

While the team seemingly did a nice job of utilizing their draft picks and abundance of cap space, their front office is in a bit of turmoil. The organization moved on from general manager Mike Maccagnan earlier this month, and Gase subsequently earned the interim GM tag. Since that time, the head coach has made several notable roster moves, including his decision to move on from a pair of former draft picks (tight end Jordan Leggett and linebacker Darron Lee).

Gase recently sat down with Albert Breer of SI.com to discuss the organization’s search for a new GM, his outlook for the season, and his thoughts on some of the team’s notable free agent additions. The entire article is worth a read, but we’ve compiled some relevant soundbites below:

On his role in finding a replacement for Maccagnan:

Christopher [Johnson]’s making the decision. There are a couple of us that are trying to help put the right type of guys in front of him. And the biggest thing, you’re looking for a guy that has leadership qualities. … [But] that has to be both of us [as GM and coach]. We both have to do it. We got to work together to accomplish that. It’s been a while—eight years since they made the playoffs. It’s been a while.

“There are a lot of people here that haven’t experienced that yet.”

On the Jets signing free agent linebacker C.J. Mosley:

“His reputation is no secret around the NFL. People know. Eric Weddle actually texted me when we were in free agency and laid it out—‘Do whatever you gotta do to get this guy, this guy is a stud.’ [Weddle] had just signed with L.A., and it was great to get confirmation on the things we’d already heard.”

On second-year quarterback Sam Darnold:

“When you watch him just throw, anyone can watch him throw and go, ‘that guy can throw the football. I think the side that I didn’t know as much, and I’ve seen it since I’ve been here, is how competitive he is as far as learning football. He wants to be as good as he can be. He wants to be a great player. And you can tell by his work ethic, that’s what he wants to do. He’s not just talking the talk.”

On the addition of running back Le’Veon Bell, who Gase was reportedly against signing:

“I think he’s very motivated to do well and help this team win. And I think the more people keep talking, the more he keeps putting his head down and working. For me, I’ve combed through a lot of the things he’s done in Pittsburgh to make sure I really understands what he loves doing, and make sure we do a good job of building this offense, because it’s very fluid and flexible, it’s chameleon-like.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Won’t Try To Trade Le’Veon Bell

Jets head coach/interim GM Adam Gase didn’t want the team to sign Le’Veon Bell this offseason, but that doesn’t mean they’ll try to trade him just months after inking him to a four-year, $52.5MM contract. When asked about the possibility via text, a team source replied to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano with a flat “No.” 

This should come as no real surprise – the Jets have already paid out $12MM in bonuses to Bell and that’s money that could not be recouped in the event of a trade. Meanwhile, any team acquiring Bell would only be on the hook for $40MM over four years with $13MM remaining in guarantees.

Hypothetically, that would make Bell more attractive to other clubs, but it’s hard to see the Jets getting an offer strong enough to justify that financial hit. In all likelihood, shopping Bell would not result in a trade and would only serve to create a divide between the club and its best playmaker. That would be a disaster for the Jets, especially since Bell is already aware of Gase’s opposition to his signing.

Over the weekend, Veteran NFL reporter John Clayton said that he could “absolutely see” the Jets trading Bell before the start of the season, but it’s hard for us to imagine such a scenario. Moving Bell would leave the Jets with unproven options like Elijah McGuire and Ty Montgomery in the backfield and make the Jets look even more foolish in the midst of a bizarre turnover.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Jets’ Star Players, GM Search

Rich Cimini of ESPN.com passes along a number of interesting notes about the Jets this morning, including a few thoughts and reports on the futures of certain key players and the team’s hunt for a new GM.

For instance, Cimini reports that there is already speculation in league circles that head coach/interim GM Adam Gase is looking to move on from defensive lineman Leonard Williams. That does not mean that Gase wants to trade or cut Williams in 2019, but it sounds as though the new regime would be perfectly willing to allow Williams to sign elsewhere when he becomes a free agent at the end of the year. Cimini suggests that the club could franchise tag Williams or execute a tag-and-trade, but a long-term deal with the Jets does not seem likely at this point.

With respect to Le’Veon Bell, whose signing was a factor in the deteriorating relationship between Gase and former GM Mike Maccagnan, Cimini says it would not be surprising to see the Jets trade Bell after the 2019 season. If they cannot find a trade partner, then Bell can easily be cut after the 2020 season, when all of his guaranteed money will have been paid.

Robby Anderson‘s future with the club is more straightforward. Gase appreciates Anderson’s talent, and if the big-play wideout has a strong 2019, he could be back with Gang Green on a multi-year pact. If he disappoints, he will be gone.

And as far as the club’s GM search is concerned, Cimini says that the rumors connecting Peyton Manning to the job have no substance and that Manning is not on the Jets’ radar at the moment (which jibes with a report from yesterday). Cimini also hears that Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas remains the odds-on favorite for the job. Douglas has been billed as the front-runner since Maccagnan was fired.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Le’Veon Bell, HC Adam Gase In Contact

New Jets head coach (and interim GM) may not have wanted Le’Veon Bell, but the two have been in constant contact this offseason, a source tells Brian Costello of the New York Post. Furthermore, Costello hears the conversations have been positive. 

[RELATED: Gase Didn’t Want Jets To Sign Bell]

Armed with $100MM+ in cap space, the Jets used a big chunk of their available money to ink the running back to a four-year, $52MM deal. Gase didn’t want the club to spend big bucks on any rusher, but GM Mike Maccagnan got his way and landed one of the league’s most dynamic offensive talents with an average annual value of $13MM. This week, the Jets sacked Maccagnan in a curiously-timed move.

Meanwhile, Bell seems committed to making the relationship with Gase work.

There’s been a bunch of false reports and speculation about me in the past about things I’ve said and done, so I’m used to this,” Bell tweeted earlier this week. “I don’t jump to conclusions when I hear or see a story that may affect me. Even if reports are true, that won’t stop me from doing what I came here to do…everyone has a job to do, and I’m gonna do mine whether people “like” me or not. I’m here to win football games.”

Bell and Gase have little choice in the matter as both men are set to be together through at least the 2022 season. The running back did not show for the start of the Jets’ voluntary workouts in May, but he is expected to arrive for mandatory minicamp in June.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets’ Adam Gase Didn’t Want Le’Veon Bell

Try this one on for size – the Jets’ new head coach and recently appointed interim GM Adam Gase “absolutely” did not want the team to sign running back Le’Veon Bell this offseason, according to Manish Mehta of the Daily News (on Twitter). Of course, he lost that battle, as Mike Maccagnan inked Bell to a four-year, $52MM contract. 

[RELATED: Jets Fire GM Mike Maccagnan]

There were previous rumblings that Gase wasn’t thrilled about the Bell expenditure, but that came with further word that Gase’s dissatisfaction with the Bell signing and Maccagnan on the whole was “overblown.” Now that the Jets have canned Maccagnan, we know that the Gase-Maccagnan beef was real, and that likely goes for disagreement over the Bell signing as well.

Gase wasn’t just opposed to signing Bell – Mehta hears he didn’t want to spend a lot of money on any running back. Regardless, the two are tied together for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, Gase’s preferred choice to be the next Jets general manager is Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas, Mehta hears (on Twitter). Douglas and Gase have history together dating back to their time with the Bears and he’s already said to be a top candidate for the job.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bell Plans To Report To Jets Minicamp

Le’Veon Bell has not made an appearance at a minicamp or training camp since 2016, and he is now away from the team that doled out the contract he sought for years. It appears, however, the Jets’ recently signed running back does plan to suit up in practice gear for his team fairly soon.

Bell has skipped the Jets’ voluntary portion of the offseason so far, opting to train on his own. But Adam Gase expects him to show for their minicamp. The mandatory workouts run from June 4-6.

We had a conversation about what was kind of his schedule,” Gase said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “We’ll kind of see how the OTAs go. As of right now, I know the mandatory stuff … he said he was going to be here for that. So, I don’t expect him to not show up for (minicamp).”

Despite the Jets’ public stance being they are OK with Bell skipping their offseason program so far, Mehta notes they are not exactly pleased by this development.

Bell in 2017 earned All-Pro honors despite missing the entire Steelers offseason program, during his first franchise-tagged season, but he obviously had far more familiarity with Pittsburgh’s offense than the does with his new team’s. Every other Jets starter has reported for the team’s offseason program. Bell skipped last season and made it to free agency, signing a four-year, $52MM Jets contract.

When it’s time to play football,” Bell wrote (via Instagram) when asked when he will show up. “I got to stick to the formula that I know works for me to be the best player I can be…I’m not just tryna win football games; I want a ring! I want to desperately show everybody what I can what I can REALLY do…I’ll take the heat right now. Everybody will forget about that once January comes around.”

Gase and GM Mike Maccagnan were apparently not on the same page when it came to how much to pay Bell, but the Jets are committed to him now. It sounds like their best chance of getting their first glimpse of their new starting running back will come next month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Jets’ Adam Gase, Mike Maccagnan

We heard last month that there was friction between Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan and new head coach Adam Gase. Maccagnan had already downplayed the reports, and Gase also dismissed those whispers yesterday.

“I don’t know who decides to put that stuff out there,” Gase said (via Brian Costello of the New York Post). “It kind of pisses me off a little bit. We have discussion on everything. That’s our job. We have to work through so much stuff. That’s what we have to do. That’s all we’ve done since we’ve been here.

“Since we started, we’ve been in constant communication whether he’s coming down to my office or I’m going to his office, that’s all we’re trying to do is make sure we’re on the same page all the time. We’re trying to put this thing together as well as we can in a short period of time.”

The initial report said that Maccagnan and Gase disagreed over the Jets’ free agent strategy. CEO Christopher Johnson subsequently visiting team facilities to “observe the dynamic between the coach and general manager.”

Costello acknowledges that the duo hasn’t always seen eye to eye during their brief stint together. Specifically, the two had differing opinions on how much the organization should pay star free agent running back Le’Veon Bell. Ultimately, the writer says that the “issues were settled and things were overblown.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Le’Veon Bell’s Jets Deal

Coming off one of the boldest attempts to secure a top-market contract in NFL history, Le’Veon Bell landed on his feet. While his market was on the verge of getting to a place that would have made his gamble foolish, with several teams either bowing out early or not having the level of interest previously indicated, the Jets saved the All-Pro back.

Bell’s deal will come with $27MM fully guaranteed, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. That number gives Bell the third-most fully guaranteed money among running backs (and the most among backs attached to veteran contracts, with only rookie-contract players Saquon Barkley and Leonard Fournette standing to earn more over the course of their deals). There is an additional $8MM in injury guarantees, bumping the four-year, $52.5MM deal’s total guaranteed money to $35MM.

While the Jets can get out of this contract after Year 2, after having paid the $27MM due through the 2020 season, Bell’s 2021 salary ($8MM) is guaranteed for injury. That figure becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2021 league year. Bell’s non-guaranteed 2022 salary is $9.5MM, Florio adds. The $8MM signing bonus will be completely paid by January 2020. If Bell is on the Jets’ roster through 2021, he will be due $38MM — without factoring in per-game roster bonuses, which max out at $500K per season.

In terms of per-game incentives, Bell can collect $1.5MM per season — but the thresholds are lofty. In each year of the contract, Bell can earn $500K for surpassing 1,800 yards from scrimmage — something he has done three times, including in 2016 when he only played 12 games. Should Bell exceed 2,000 yards from scrimmage, he would collect an additional $500K. If Bell gains 1,800 yards from scrimmage and the Jets make the playoffs, that means another $500K for their starting running back, Florio notes. No Jet has recorded 1,800 yards from scrimmage since Curtis Martin in 2004.

Bell gave up $14.5MM on the Steelers’ 2018 franchise tag to be in position to command this contract, and while that was a debatable strategy, an injury may have ruined the 27-year-old’s chances of securing it. Bell had suffered key setbacks during the 2014, ’15 and ’16 seasons.

And Just like Antonio Brown‘s gamble depended on the Raiders, who were willing to redo the wide receiver’s deal when other suitors would not, Bell’s market depended on the Jets. The 49ers’ offer did not include guarantees in the vicinity of the Jets’ proposal, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets. This follows a report that placed San Francisco’s three-year, $38MM deal as being “just about fully guaranteed.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Bell, Steelers, Tannehill

There was a lot of confusion surrounding Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers last season. It was widely reported during the early part of the season that Bell planned on playing for the Steelers in 2018. The timeline varied but it was consistently reported that Bell planned on showing up sometime after Pittsburgh’s Week 7 bye week. Then he never did, and we never knew what happened, until now. Bell had previously thought he needed to play six games to earn an accrued season and avoid his franchise tag from tolling over to 2019, but then realized that wasn’t the case, he explained in a recent interview with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com.

Bell had “absolutely intended” to report after Week 7, “but shortly before then, Bell learned that he didn’t need to play any games to hit free agency. Before then, he thought he needed to play six games for an accrued season, but turns out he was free as long as the Steelers didn’t tag him again,” Fowler writes. Bell apparently learned on social media that he wouldn’t have to play, and took the plan to his agent. Bell also revealed that he came close to returning once more, in Week 11.

“‘I was so close to doing it,’ he said. ‘At the same time, I was so torn. Do I go through that? Will they embrace me or will they not? I eventually decided I sat out 10 games, I can sit six more. At the time, the team was malfunctioning, having problems, a lot of blame on me. I didn’t want to come back and not feel welcome,'” Bell said. It won’t change anything, but it’s nice to finally have some clarity on what went down with Bell and the Steelers as he prepares for his new life with the Jets.

Here’s more from around the league as the free agency frenzy is finally starting to quiet down:

  • Ryan Tannehill is no longer a Dolphin, after he was traded yesterday to the Titans. But he’s leaving behind a significant impact, as Tannehill will leave the Dolphins with $18.423MM in dead cap, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. As Florio points out, it only would’ve been $13.423MM in dead cap had they designated him a post-June 1 cut and released him outright. Essentially the Dolphins ate an additional $5MM in dead cap to get back a fourth and seventh round pick, the compensation they got from the Titans in the trade. They also gave up a sixth round pick of their own.
  • Panthers offensive lineman Taylor Hearn was caught on camera getting into a fight outside of a bar and getting knocked out, according to TMZ Sports. Jourdan Rodrigue of The Charlotte Observer tweeted out the Panthers’ statement on the incident, which reads “we are aware of the video, and have been in contact with Taylor and the league about the incident. We will have no further comment at this time.” Hearn, a rookie undrafted free agent from Clemson, appeared in just four games for the Panthers this past season. Already a bottom of the roster type player, this could effect his status with the team.
  • Our friends over at Overthecap.com are out with a great new page to track free agency spending this offseason, keeping track of each team’s signings, how much money they’ve doled out, and how much in guarantees they’ve pledged. So far the Jets have guaranteed by far the most money, as they’re on the hook for at least $115.5MM with the contracts they’ve signed so far. The Lions, Raiders, 49ers, and Bills round out the top five in terms of new money guaranteed. In terms of total spending, including non-guaranteed money, the Packers have been the biggest spenders, dishing out contracts worth a total of $184.1MM.