Le'Veon Bell

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.

Will Le’Veon Bell Refuse Testing For HGH?

Jets running back Le’Veon Bell continued a strange trend recently of players revolting against the collectively bargained random drug testing procedure this morning. On Twitter, Bell claimed has has been randomly selected (he put random in quotations) five times over the past ten weeks to be tested for human growth hormone. Bell went on to say that he is “not doing another after today.”

Of course, while the chances of being selected for an HGH test are quite low (only 40 players are tested each week), Bell remains as likely to be tested next week as he has been in the past ten. While it remains likely that Bell was simply airing out frustration and would not actually refuse to do another HGH test if he is selected, if he did refuse, it would be considered equivalent to a failed test and he would have to serve a suspension.

Odell Beckham Jr. had similar complaints regarding the league’s standard performance enhancing drug testing last week. It is worth noting that HGH tests require a blood sample and are much more invasive than the standard urine tests for things like steroids. The blood sample is clearly a factor in Bell’s frustration.

Bell has been a mainstay in NFL news for the past two seasons. After his fallout with the Steelers organization led him to sit out all of last season, he signed a massive free-agent contract with the Jets, but has failed to live up to expectations. Rumors have already surfaced that new management in New York will look to trade Bell in the offseason.

Injury Updates: Bengals, Vikes, Cards, Jets

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green had been expected to return to game action in Week 10 against the Ravens, and head coach Zac Taylor even confirmed as much this morning, per Paul Dehner of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, Green didn’t practice Wednesday after experiencing ankle swelling during Cincinnati’s walkthrough and is now considered day-to-day, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, so it’s unclear if Green will still be ready for Baltimore. Green hasn’t played a single snap this year after suffering ankle damage during the preseason. When he does return, he’ll be catching passes from a new quarterback (rookie Ryan Finley) as he makes his case for an extension.

Here’s more on the injury front:

  • Adam Thielen returned to action last Sunday following a hamstring injury-induced absence and quickly re-aggravated the ailment, but Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer disputes that Thielen came back too quickly, tweets Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. While it’s not apparent if Thielen will play against the Cowboys in Week 10, it doesn’t appear the veteran wideout is dealing with a long-term injury. Minnesota faces Denver in Week 11 before heading to its bye, so the Vikings could conceivably take an overly-cautious approach and hold Thielen out until Week 13, although that could be difficult to do given the tight NFC playoff race.
  • Cardinals running back David Johnson has missed the past two games with back and ankle injuries, but he says he’ll “definitely” be playing when Arizona faces off with Tampa Bay this week, per Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com (Twitter link). With both Johnson and backup Chase Edmonds facing health questions, the Cardinals shipped a conditional sixth-round pick to the Dolphins for Kenyan Drake, who proceeded to rush for 110 yards against the 49ers in Week 9.
  • Le’Veon Bell did not suffer any structural damage to his knee in the fourth quarter of a Week 9 loss to the Dolphins, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. While Bell didn’t practice on Wednesday, he is expected to be ready when the Jets face the Colts on Sunday. Gang Green did promote running back Josh Adams from its practice squad earlier this week, but that move was likely executed as a fail-safe against a possible Bell absence.
  • Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett left Week 9 after incurring a left MCL strain, but he was able to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday, according to Mike Wells of ESPN.com. That news should at least give Brissett a chance to play against the Dolphins on Sunday, although head coach Frank Reich noted it’s not a “slam dunk” that Brissett is available. Indianapolis would turn to veteran backup Brian Hoyer in Brissett’s absence.

Jets To Promote RB Josh Adams, Sign LB Paul Worrilow

The Jets are promoting running back Josh Adams from the practice squad to the active roster, as Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports. Adams was the Eagles’ leading rusher in 2018 — his rookie season — having compiled 511 rushing yards on a 4.3 yards-per-carry average and three TDs. However, after adding Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders this offseason, Philadelphia waived Adams during final cutdowns in August.

Jets GM Joe Douglas, who is reportedly high on Adams, was quick to scoop him up after he cleared waivers. In fact, the club was paying Adams $25K per week while he was on the practice squad, which is a nice income for a p-squad player.

Adams’ promotion naturally led some to wonder about Le’Veon Bell‘s health, as Bell reportedly sustained a knee injury during the team’s loss on Sunday. However, Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network tweets that another team was interested in signing Adams to its own active roster, and the Jets’ decision to call him up was triggered by that outside interest and not by Bell’s health. Indeed, both Mehta and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com say that Bell’s injury is not believed to be significant (Twitter links).

Mehta adds that Gang Green will get more clarity on Bell’s status later this week, and in the meantime, the 1-7 club might as well see what it has in Adams, a former UDFA from Notre Dame. That is especially true since the other team that was interested in Adams may have been the division-rival Dolphins, who recently lost Mark Walton to a four-game ban.

Garafolo also reports that the Jets have signed linebacker Paul Worrilow (Twitter link). Worrilow, a former UDFA himself, was a starter for the Falcons from 2013-15 and also started eight games for the Lions in 2017. However, he lost the entire 2018 season to injury, and the Eagles cut him in August due to health concerns.

Worrilow quickly caught on with the Ravens after the Eagles released him, but he announced his retirement shortly thereafter. He obviously changed his mind, though, as he worked out for the Eagles twice since the season started, and he worked out for the Jets on Friday. New York obviously was impressed enough to give him a shot, and it’s worth noting that Douglas was in Philadelphia during Worrilow’s tenure with the Eagles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.