Le'Veon Bell

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Dolphins, Jets, Gase

Prior to being selected by the Patriots in the third round of the 2016 draft, quarterback Jacoby Brissett wanted nothing to do with New England.

“I honestly did not want to be there,” Brissett said on the McCourty twins’ podcast (via Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston). “When I took my visit there — my pre-draft visit — I was like, ‘Hell no. If one team drafts me, it better not be them.’

“And I’ll never forget, (offensive coordinator) Josh (McDaniels) called me on the phone on draft night and I didn’t have his number saved. That’s how bad it was. I didn’t even have his number saved in my phone. I was like, ‘Damn, man.'”

You can’t necessarily blame Brissett for feeling that way. Besides having to play behind one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Tom Brady, the rookie QB was also behind former second-rounder Jimmy Garoppolo on the depth chart. Due to suspensions and injuries to his teammates, Brissett ended up seeing time in three games (two starts) during his rookie campaign. The following year, the Patriots shipped Brissett to the Colts in exchange for wideout Phillip Dorsett.

“Honestly, that was my wake-up to the NFL, was being traded and then the next week, you’re out there in a game,” Brissett added. “It was like, ‘We don’t care how long you’ve been here. You’d better know how to play.”

Let’s check out some more notes from the AFC East…

  • Speaking of Patriots quarterbacks, Cam Newton is in New England to complete his physical and finalize his one-year deal, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The reporter notes that the Patriots are confident in the quarterback’s “condition” and aren’t anticipating any issues with the physical. Injuries limited Newton to only a pair of games in 2019, forcing him to settle for a one-year, $1.75MM deal with New England.
  • If the Dolphins are forced to trim their training camp roster, then Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald points to a handful of undrafted rookies who could get cut, including offensive linemen Jonathan Hubbard, Nick Kaltmayer, and Donell Stanley. Jackson also opines that a handful of veterans could be sent packing, a group that includes offensive linemen Adam Pankey and Keaton Sutherland, quarterback Jake Rudock, fullback Chandler Cox, and receivers Ricardo Louis and Mack Hollins.
  • Connor Hughes of The Athletic did a somewhat similar exercise with the Jets, as he explored which players could be traded if New York gets off to a sluggish start. The writer points to wideout Breshad Perriman, linebacker Avery Williamson, running back Le’Veon Bell, defensive end Henry Anderson, and safety Marcus Maye as potential trade candidates.
  • While Hughes believes that Adam Gase has received some underserved criticism during his tenure in New York, the writer also can’t envision the Jets head coach keeping his job if the team finishes with seven or fewer wins. Of course, there are plenty of scenarios where the Jets struggle and Gase does keep his job, especially if quarterback Sam Darnold misses more time in 2020.

Jets Notes: Mosley, Bell, Flacco

Jets safety Jamal Adams remains a trade candidate, but count linebacker C.J. Mosley as a high-profile member of the defense that wants Adams to stick around.

“[Trading Adams] would be a crazy move,” Mosley said (via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com). “First of all, he’s one of the leaders on the team. … To have that presence in the secondary, a guy that can make plays in the passing game and also plays in the backfield — in the box — that’s always exciting.” 

Mosley himself — who played in just two games in his first year with Gang Green after signing a massive free agent contract last offseason — said he feels great and expects to be at full health for training camp (assuming there is a training camp, of course).

Now let’s take a look at a few more Jets-related items:

  • Another big-name player who looks like a trade candidate is running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell disappointed in his first season with the Jets, and many believe he will be released after the 2020 campaign, which would allow the club to realize a significant cap savings with a fairly minimal dead money charge. But if the Jets look like non-contenders at the trade deadline, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv expects them to put Bell on the trade block in the hopes of recouping some sort of draft compensation for him.
  • The Jets addressed one of their biggest needs in the first round of the draft by adding massive Louisville LT Mekhi Becton. Becton may be more raw than some of his fellow LT prospects, but he also has a tremendously high ceiling, and he could be protecting Sam Darnold‘s blind side right away. However, free agent acquisition George Fant hopes to fill that role in 2020. Per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Fant wants to play on the left side, though the former Seahawk also indicated he is willing to play RT if necessary (Twitter link). “Right now I’m just ready for an opportunity,” Fant said.
  • GM Joe Douglas signed WR Breshad Perriman in free agency and added a high-upside receiving prospect in Denzel Mims in the draft, but Brian Costello of the New York Post believes the Jets could look into re-signing Demaryius Thomas. Thomas, 32, wants to continue his playing career, and though he is nowhere close to the player he once was, he proved himself to be a strong locker room presence in 2019 and could be a good mentor for Mims.
  • Veteran QB Joe Flacco may not be recovered from his neck surgery until late August or mid-September, but Cimini believes he would be a good fit for the Jets. In the same piece linked above, the ESPN scribe says New York must add a veteran backup for Darnold, and Douglas — who championed Flacco as a member of the Ravens’ staff in 2008 — could take a look at the former Super Bowl MVP.
  • Betty Wold Johnson, the mother of Jets owners Christopher Johnson and Woody Johnson, has passed away at the age of 99, as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk writes. Though Betty Johnson did not have a formal role with the team, she was considered the club matriarch and was beloved by players and execs.

AFC East Rumors: Bell, Dolphins, Patriots

Le’Veon Bell‘s first season with the Jets could not have gone much worse. The two-time All-Pro averaged just 3.2 yards per carry and, despite playing in 15 games, failed to clear 800 rushing yards. Bell’s contract points him toward a second Jets season, but Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes this will almost certainly be his last with the team. A report surfaced last offseason that Adam Gase did not want Bell in the first place, and Mehta adds that Gang Green’s HC repeatedly voiced frustrations about the running back behind the scenes last season. While Gase would also assign blame to the offensive line — one that ranked 31st in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards metric — he shifted between blaming that injury-plagued group and Bell throughout the year. The Jets also believed Bell put on weight as the season progressed.

Other than all of this, the Bell-Jets pact has gone great. The 28-year-old back’s four-year, $52.5MM deal runs through 2022, but the Jets can save $9.5MM in cap space by cutting Bell in 2021. Let’s move on to some other situations in the AFC East:

  • Some slotted Louisiana offensive line prospect Robert Hunt as a better guard fit than tackle in the NFL, but the Dolphins will station their second-round pick at right tackle to start his career, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald notes. Hunt would then compete with incumbent Jesse Davis — who graded outside Pro Football Focus’ top 60 tackles last season — at right tackle and then slide inside to guard if the Dolphins decide he’s not a good tackle fit. Davis will be the Dolphins’ first-stringer when camp opens, per Salguero. Should Hunt prove to be a better fit at guard, he could compete for the spot opposite recently signed Ereck Flowers.
  • As could be expected based on Austin Jackson‘s age (20), Julie’n Davenport is expected to begin as Miami’s left tackle, Salguero adds. Included in the Laremy Tunsil trade, Davenport suffered an injury that landed him on IR early last season. He returned at the midway point and started the Dolphins’ final seven games. With Jackson being drafted 18th, it should be expected he will be in the lineup at some point in 2020.
  • This could be anticipated based on the Patriots‘ offseason decisions — not drafting a quarterback and not signing either Jameis Winston or Andy Dalton to low-level contracts — but they are not believed to be inclined to add another veteran passer, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. Their (virtual) quarterback room consists of 2019 fourth-rounder Jarrett Stidham, on-again/off-again Patriot Brian Hoyer set for his age-34 season and two UDFAs (Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke and Louisiana Tech’s J’Mar Smith).

AFC East Rumors: Jets, Bell, Butler, Norman

The Jets are widely expected to be active in free agency, and now that a new CBA has been approved, they can increase their ability to spend by designating Trumaine Johnson as a post-June 1 cut. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com takes a look at the players that Gang Green is expected to target, and unsurprisingly, some of this year’s most prolific O-lineman, edge rushers, and cornerbacks are on the list.

But what are the Jets’ fallback plans if they can’t land their top targets? Connor Hughes of The Athletic has heard that the team could pursue Eagles OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and if the Jets miss out on guards like Graham Glasgow and Joe Thuney, Hughes says they have looked into Panthers guard Greg Van Roten.

Now for more from the AFC East:

  • The Jets would like to retain WR Robby Anderson, but if his price tag gets too high, both Hughes and Cimini believe Breshad Perriman would be a target. Perriman offers field-stretching ability and had a strong finish to the 2019 season with the Bucs.
  • Jets RB Le’Veon Bell receives a $2MM roster bonus today. As Cimini points out, that bonus makes it a little less likely that Bell is traded, though that never seemed like a realistic proposition to begin with.
  • Mike Reiss of ESPN.com believes the Patriots are prepared to move on from WR Phillip Dorsett, though it’s a different story for Adam Butler. The fourth-year DT recently switched agents, and Reiss says extension talks could be on tap. Butler, a former UDFA, recorded six sacks last season.
  • The details are in on Josh Norman‘s new contract with the Bills, courtesy of Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (via Twitter), The deal was originally reported as a one-year, $6MM pact that could increase to $8MM with incentives, but Norman has a number of workout and roster milestones to hit before he collects the full $6MM. His salary is just $2.8MM, $1.5MM of which is guaranteed.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Bell, Patriots

Le’Veon Bell didn’t put up the kind of numbers that the Jets expected in 2019. And, in their estimation, much of that had to do with Bell’s conditioning. The Jets feel that Bell “gained weight and lost explosiveness as the season went on,” Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes.

That sort of talk won’t help the possibility of a Bell trade, and that was already looking pretty slim. The running back is due $13.5MM in guarantees and the Jets would have to eat a portion of his salary if they were to move him. Even in that case, Cimini feels, the Jets wouldn’t do much better than a low draft pick.

Of course, cutting Bell one year into his mega free agent deal isn’t an option either. If they dropped him today, they’d be on the hook for $19MM in dead money and the “savings” would be a net negative.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

Latest On Jets’ Le’Veon Bell

Speculation swirls around Le’Veon Bell, but the Jets running back says he has every intention of staying put. When asked about his future, Bell told TMZ that he’s on the same page with head coach Adam Gase

[RELATED – Release Candidate: Trumaine Johnson]

Me and coach Gase had our exit meeting,” Bell said. “It was fine, so we straight. Yeah, we good.”

Gase and Bell butted heads throughout the season, which saw the multiple-time Pro Bowler put up the worst numbers of his career. Bell ran for just 789 yards and three touchdowns on 229 carries – that comes out to just 3.3 yards per tote, a sharp contrast from his best work in Pittsburgh, which included back-to-back 4.9-yard averages. His 66 catches for 461 yards and one score weren’t too shabby, but that’s still a notch or two below expectations. With the Steelers, Bell averaged 8.5 yards per reception and averaged 80 grabs in each of his final two seasons with his former team.

Despite the friction and the disappointment, Bell says he’s ready to bounce back and move forward with the club on his lucrative multi-year deal.

Everybody blowing everything out of proportion,” Bell said. “Water under the bridge — we’re fine. We good … Jets for four more years unless something drastic changes.”

Bell, we figure, has at least one more year in green, unless the Jets are extraordinarily desperate to get rid of him. Releasing Bell this offseason would leave them with nothing but a backfield vacancy and a giant chunk of dead money. Next year, however, they could escape the deal and save $9.5MM against just $4MM in dead money.

On a related note – Bell’s quick math was slightly off. His contract takes him through the 2022 season, so “four more years” with the Jets would require another contract. For a number of reasons, that won’t be happening anytime soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Will Le’Veon Bell Return To The Jets?

Last year, Jets GM Mike Maccagnan signed Le’Veon Bell to a four-year, $52.5MM deal. Weeks later, Maccagnan was fired in a long-expected, yet ill-timed, move. Apparently, new head coach Adam Gase and GM Joe Douglas were not wild about Maccagnan’s moves, including the major expenditure for Bell. 

Unfortunately for Gase and Douglas, escaping Bell’s deal won’t be easy. The running back is slated to count for a $15.5MM cap figure in 2020 with similar numbers in 2021 and 2022. Shedding Bell this offseason would leave the Jets with $19MM in dead money and zero cap savings. The Jets’ best opportunity to dump Bell would come before the 2021 season, when they could save $9.5MM against $4MM in dead money.

Meanwhile, Bell underperformed in 2019 and reportedly clashed with team brass. He averaged just 3.2 yards per carry and his 66 catches for 461 yards out of the backfield weren’t nearly enough to offset that lack of efficiency.

Bell claimed multiple teams inquired about him before the October trade deadline. Douglas hinted that he would listen on calls after the season, though he later walked those comments back, saying that Bell is a valued member of the team.

Releasing Bell outright would result in $19MM in dead money. A trade would be less damaging – the Jets would absorb just $6MM in dead money while freeing up $9.5MM in cap room. Then again, the team taking on Bell would have to commit to his guaranteed $13MM for 2020, and that’s a tough sell. To offset that, the Jets would likely have to convert a portion of his 2020 pay into a signing bonus, which would add to the dead money total.

With all of that in mind, do you expect Bell to be in a Jets uniform in 2020? Cast your vote below (link for app users) and back up your choice in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Plan To Keep Le’Veon Bell

The Jets might not have much choice in the matter, but GM Joe Douglas sounds like he expects Le’Veon Bell to return in 2020. In an interview with ESPN Radio, Douglas was complimentary of the temperamental star. 

[Bell is a] very good player…We value Le’Veon,” Douglas said (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini). “We value the competitor, we value the teammate. We’re excited (for him) being in our program another year, going through our offseason again.”

Drama aside, Bell remains one of the most talented running backs in the NFL. He also has the Jets on the hook for oodles of money. Thanks to the four-year, $52.5MM contract handed to him by former GM Mike Maccagnan, Bell is slated to count for a $15.5MM cap figure in 2020 with similar numbers in 2021 and 2022. Shedding Bell this offseason would leave the Jets with $19MM in dead money and zero cap savings.

In theory, the Jets’ first real opportunity to dump Bell would come before the 2021 season, when they could save $9.5MM against $4MM in dead money. The Jets hope that won’t be necessary. Bell, who turns 28 in February, averaged just 3.2 yards per carry last year, though he still managed 66 catches for 461 yards out of the backfield.

Douglas was also asked about a potential extension for safety Jamal Adams, but he sidestepped the question. The GM only said that he’s “so happy” Adams is on the team and that the trade deadline tension “is in the rear-view mirror.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Le’Veon Bell Wants To Stay With Jets

While Le’Veon Bell‘s first season in New York has been a disappointment, the running back isn’t looking to leave the Jets after only one season. Bell told ESPN’s Rich Cimini that he’s committed to the organization and intends to be back in 2020.

“I wouldn’t have signed here for four years if I didn’t want to be here four years,” Bell said.

“When I did sign here, I didn’t expect us to go 16-0, you know what I’m saying? I knew it would be a process. I understand everything. We got a young quarterback, a whole group of guys coming in — new offensive coordinators, head coaches. … I understand what goes on. It’s not like basketball. You can’t take one or two guys and change a team.”

After sitting out the 2018 season, Bell inked a lucrative $52.5MM deal with the Jets this past offseason. The 27-year-old has proceeded to put up some of the worse numbers of his career; in 14 games this season, Bell has ran for only 748 yards and three scores on 229 carries, good for a career-low 3.3 yards per carry. He’s also hauled in 61 receptions for 425 yards and one touchdown, his lowest totals since 2015.

There were whispers that head coach Adam Gase wasn’t a fan of the Bell signing, and with a new front office, it’s been assumed the Jets will shop the veteran this offseason. Bell is set to make a fully-guaranteed $13.5MM next year, making a trade difficult (it also makes cutting Bell all but impossible).

There could be some reasons for optimism in New York. Sam Darnold took a step forward during his second season in the league, the Jets are 5-2 over their last seven games, and the team will be armed with another high first-rounder. Bell’s also aware of these positive factors, so he’s willing to be patient when it comes to team success.

“I’m a guy that is extremely patient, not just on the field,” Bell said. “I understand it takes a while to build a stable program. I’m here for it. It’s what I want to do. I’m not saying I’m ecstatic about it. I’m not saying I’m down about it. I understand it’s a process, getting things going in the right direction.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Le’Veon Bell Discusses Future

Le’Veon Bell‘s first season in New York hasn’t gone as planned. After sitting out the 2018 season, the running back’s return to the NFL has been underwhelming, as he’s compiled only 508 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 161 carries (good for a career-low 3.2 yards per carry). The Jets are also sitting at 3-7, meaning Bell will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since his rookie campaign.

Making matters worse, there have been whispers that some in the Jets organization would rather use Bell’s money elsewhere. The 27-year-old inked a lucrative four-year, $52.5MM deal with New York this offseason, but subsequent reports indicated that head coach Adam Gase wasn’t in favor of paying a running back that kind of money. Following the firing of general manger Mike Maccagnan, the team brought in Joe Douglas, who also wouldn’t have been in favor in that kind of investment.

After ditching Pittsburgh in pursuit of an organization that valued him on the field and via a paycheck, Bell now finds himself with career-worst numbers, a struggling team, and trade rumors. Through it all, the veteran has been a respected member of the locker room, and he’s generally spoken words of encouragement instead of criticism.

Bell took the same approach in a recent interview with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, although he discussed some player-movement topics that he’s generally avoided throughout the season. While the entire interview is worth a read, we snagged some of the notable soundbites below:

On choosing to sign with the New York Jets:

“I made a decision. And I’ll live with it.”

On his lack of production and whether he would have put up superior numbers on a playoff contender: 

“I feel like when I get those numbers here, people are going to look at me differently. Like, dang, he didn’t even have to go to the Chiefs. He didn’t have to go to the Colts or whatever team has a high-powered offense. I didn’t have to go there to do it. I came here and helped this team turn around.”

On whether he thought of restructuring his current contract to help facilitate a trade to a contender:

“It depends on the (financial) situation. You know what I’m saying? I had sat out a whole year… I’m not so much worried about the (Average Per Year). Everybody cares about the APY… So, when you say taking a pay cut, it depends on what you’re talking about.”

On the perception that he can no longer be as productive as he was in Pittsburgh:

“A lot of people will take the first hole they see. I don’t. I’ll take the best hole I see. Some people see the first hole and they try to hit it. They might end up breaking through and getting those 12 yards. Or the D-tackle might rip off and get a tackle for no gain. With me, I’m going to be consistent. I might not get 12 yards, but I’m going to make sure I get seven. The next time, it’s going to be that same situation and I’m going to get seven again.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.