Le'Veon Bell

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.”

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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.



49ers Offered Le’Veon Bell ~$38MM

It sounds like the 49ers really did make a big push for Le’Veon Bell. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports (via Twitter) that the organization offered the running back a three-year, $38MM contract that was “just about fully guaranteed.” Bell ended up inking a four-year, $52.5MM deal ($25MM guaranteed) with the Jets.

We heard conflicting reports earlier this week regarding the 49ers’ interest in Bell. The team would have been a relatively peculiar fit, as the team already invested a four-year, $30MM contract in Jerick McKinnon last offseason. Matt Breida also emerged as a potential two-down back for San Francisco, meaning Bell wouldn’t have been as much of a necessity as a commodity. Ultimately, the 49ers ended up adding former Falcon running back Tevin Coleman to their backfield.

Meanwhile, while Bell had an idea he was going to join the Jets around the NFL Combine, it sounds like a team besides New York and San Francisco continued to push for his services. Fowler notes that Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and wideout (and former Steelers teammate) Antonio Brown were trying to get the running back to join Oakland.

Fowler also tweets that Bell intended to return to the Steelers in Week 7 last season. However, the running back subsequently learned that he didn’t need to accrue a full season in order to reach free agency, a revelation that changed his plans. Had the running back returned, he would have played around 10 games for Pittsburgh.

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Le’Veon Bell Contract Details

Le’Veon Bell received a four-year, $52.5MM contract from the Jets, thereby bringing an end to one of the most-discussed storylines in recent memory. And although that is a hefty sum for a running back, even one as explosive as Bell, New York appears to have managed the risk-reward aspect of the contract quite nicely. Here are some details:

  • Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News provides a breakdown of Bell’s payouts (via Twitter). He notes that the total guarantee is $25MM, as opposed to the $35MM that was first reported, and he also points out that the Jets will pay out $26MM in cash through the first two years of the deal.
  • Bell’s base salaries in 2019 and 2020 ($2.5MM and $6MM) are fully guaranteed, but after that, the guaranteed money is gone. That means that the Jets can cut bait after two seasons –having paid just $26MM — and would incur a fairly modest $4MM dead cap charge while saving $11.5MM against the cap.
  • Mehta also tweeted Bell’s salary cap hits for each of the four contract years. He will count for just $8MM against the cap in 2019.
  • As Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network tweets, the deal also includes $3MM training camp reporting bonuses in 2021 and 2022, which could disincentivize Bell from staging another holdout after his guarantees dry up.

All in all, then, the Jets appear to have secured a great player on a reasonable contract, and if things don’t work out as planned, the deal will not handicap them in the long-term.

Raiders Notes: Brown, Bell, Williams, Joyner

The 49ers weren’t the only team to miss out on Le’Veon Bell. Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes that the Raiders made an offer to the star running back, and “there was some real buzz in the building” yesterday.

The reporter also notes that the Raiders thought they could land Bell if “money wasn’t the most important thing,” as the running back reportedly preferred to play for the Raiders. After missing out on Bell, the team also took a run at Mark Ingram, who ended up landing in Baltimore.

Bell ultimately agreed to a four-year, $52.5MM deal with the Jets, forcing the Raiders to look elsewhere for a running back. At the moment, the team is rostering three backs in DeAndre Washington, Chris Warren, and James Butler.

Let’s check out some more notes out of Oakland…

  • The Raiders weren’t even considering an Antonio Brown trade until the deal between the Steelers and Bills fell apart, general manager Mike Mayock told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com (Twitter link). The organization ultimately acquired the Pro Bowl wide receiver in exchange for a third- and fifth-round pick in this year’s draft.
  • The Raiders continued to show interest in wideout Tyrell Williams even after pulling off the Brown trade, according to Jason La Canfora (on Twitter). The team ended up agreeing to a four-year, $44MM deal ($22MM guaranteed) earlier today. La Canfora notes that several other teams pursued Williams, including the Ravens, Saints, Steelers, Jets. Many of those teams were offering contracts between $8MM and $9MM annually, with the 27-year-old ultimately receiving $11MM a season from the Raiders.
  • The Raiders are planning to rely on Lamarcus Joyner as their primary nickel cornerback, writes Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The 28-year-old has primarily played safety throughout his career, although he did play some cornerback early on his career. The team will occasionally deploy Joyner at safety, although Gehlken notes that the team could still add another player at the position. Joyner is set to sign a four years, $42MM deal with the Raiders.

49ers Made Push For Le’Veon Bell?

The 49ers made a “serious push” for running back Le’Veon Bell before he signed with the Jets, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). However, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area says he doesn’t believe San Francisco had real interest in Bell.

Bell’s market may not have been as strong as he once hoped, so it’s possible reports of 49ers interest were being used as leverage. Other clubs, such as the Ravens and Colts, were expected or reported to be suitors for Bell, but those clubs never actually discussed a deal. Ultimately, Bell landed $52.5MM and $35MM over a four-year term from New York.

San Francisco would have been a curious fit for Bell, at least on paper. The 49ers signed Jerick McKinnon to a four-year, $30MM deal just last offesason, a pact that still makes McKinnon the NFL’s seventh-highest paid back. He tore his ACL last summer and missed his debut campaign with San Francisco, but it would cost the Niners cap space to cut McKinnon now. SF could have conceivably used a post-June 1 designation on McKinnon (and thus lessened the 2019 cap hit for releasing him), but the team hasn’t indicated it’s ready to move on from its 2018 free agent addition.

With McKinnon out, Matt Breida took over as the 49ers’ running back and thrived, posting 5.3 yards per attempt 153 carries. He’ll be back next year, as will restricted free agent Raheem Mostert, leaving even less room for a potential Bell acquisition.

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Jets To Sign Le’Veon Bell

The Jets have reached agreement on a deal to sign Le’Veon Bell, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The former Steelers running back will receive a four-year, $52.5MM contract with $35MM guaranteed. The deal will carry a maximum value of nearly to $61MM, including incentives. 

Bell was said to be deciding between about six teams on Tuesday, though the list of clubs might not have been completely accurate. The Ravens, for example, did not make an offer to Bell, according to Schefter. On top of that, the Ravens never even had conversations with Bell’s agent about signing him, Mike Florio of PFT (on Twitter) hears.

Still, plenty of other teams were hot on his tail. The 49ers, for example, made a strong offer to the running back and “were engaged in a wild tug-of-war with the Jets” in the final hours before Bell agreed to join Gang Green, Schefter hears.

For the Jets, the Bell signing redeems a difficult week of misfires. The Jets thought they had a deal with Vikings free agent linebacker Anthony Barr only for Barr to bail at the last minute and re-sign with the Vikings. The Jets were also heavily in pursuit of center Matt Paradis, but he stunned the league on Tuesday night by joining up with the Panthers instead.

Bell gained nearly 2,000 total yards in 2017, a year in which he was franchise tagged by the Steelers. When tagged again, Bell opted to sit out the entire 2018 season, resulting in the forfeiture of a $14.5MM salary, or $855K per game. Bell managed to make it to unrestricted free agency without the risk of injury in his final Steelers season, but it’s debatable as to whether the $14.5MM sacrifice was worthwhile.

In 2017, his last season on the field, Bell led the league with a career-high 321 rushing attempts. In the past, Bell has spoken of reducing his workload, so the Jets may have to dial down his usage. In any event, Bell profiles as the Jets’ most talented running back since Curtis Martin. The franchise has enjoyed the post-prime star power of LaDainian Tomlinson and others in the past, but Bell is a generational talent in his prime who can keep defenses honest and open up the passing game for youngster Sam Darnold.

With Darnold in the fold, the Jets are deploying the strategy used by many NFL teams with quarterbacks on rookie deals: surround the young signal-caller with talent while he’s on a cheap deal. Bell will give the Jets a boost in the running game, and he’ll be working behind an offensive line that includes new addition Kelechi Osemele, whom New York acquired from Oakland. New slot receiver Jamison Crowder, too, should give Darnold another weapon in the latter’s second pro campaign.

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Jets Have Sizable Bell Offer On Table

The Le’Veon Bell saga has gone quiet over the past several hours, and some around the league are wondering why the two-time All-Pro running back has not accepted the Jets’ offer.

The Jets have submitted a “sizable” offer to Bell, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY reports. Leery of being used as leverage, as they were with Kirk Cousins and now Anthony Barr, the Jets want a Bell answer by Tuesday night.

It is not known if the Jets have any serious competition for Bell. The other reported suitors, as of this evening, were not believed to be making a serious run at the 27-year-old star. Some in NFL circles are curious if Bell’s camp is using the Jets to ramp up an offer from another team, Vacchiano adds, or if Team Bell is attempting to force the Jets to bid against themselves. As a result, the Jets are “getting antsy,” according to Mike Silver of NFL.com (via Pro Football Talk).

Bell turned down a five-year offer from the Steelers at last year’s franchise tag deadline. Specifics on that proposal varied, but reports had Bell being in line to receive $30MM over that deal’s first two years and $45MM over three. The Steelers in 2017 reportedly offered Bell $13.3MM per year. It’s possible Bell’s camp is attempting to justify the running back’s decision to sit out 2018 in order to best position himself for this week of free agency. But as of now, Bell remains without a team.

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Latest On Le’Veon Bell

The market for Le’Veon Bell may not actually be all that robust. Albert Breer of The MMQB tweets that the Bears, Colts, Ravens, Texans and Bills “haven’t really been in it” for the All-Pro running back.

This is particularly notable following reports from earlier today that six teams were in the running for Bell: the Jets, Colts, Ravens, Packers, Texans, and Bills. With four of those teams out of the running (along with the Bears), that would seemingly mean that New York and Green Bay are going head-to-head for the running back’s services. The Raiders have also been mentioned as a potential suitor for Bell.

Breer notes that the market’s been tough for the former Steelers offensive weapon, and he adds that more teams may enter the bidding if the asking price drops. As of right now, there’s a feeling that Bell could be secured for a deal that will pay him between $11MM and $12MM per season.

Regardless of who’s in and who’s out of the bidding, we may get a resolution sooner than later. We learned earlier today that the Jets have given Bell a deadline to make a decision. If the Jets don’t hear back by that unreported time, they’ll likely move on to other free agent targets.

Jets Give Le’Veon Bell Deadline On Decision

The team most closely connected to Le’Veon Bell this offseason has given the running back a deadline to determine if he will or will not sign. The Jets have notified the All-Pro back of a deadline, per The Athletic’s Connor Hughes (on Twitter).

Gang Green has plenty of cap space to outmuscle others on this market, and with the Ravens potentially set to bow out, the Jets’ offer may be the best one out there for Bell. But nothing concrete has emerged from about how much the Jets are proposing yet.

Bell maneuvered his way to the market by becoming the first player in 20 years to sit out a full season after being franchise-tagged. He watched Todd Gurley and David Johnson each reshape the running back market, with each signing for at least $13MM per year. Both of those backs have far less mileage on their NFL odometers, which will make Bell’s pact interesting — especially given how much he has prepared for this week.

The Jets have been the team most consistently and heavily linked to Bell over the past handful of months, but the Ravens were believed to be making a late push and coming on strong. But we also just heard the Ravens were the “frontrunners” to sign Mark Ingram, which could limit their willingness to compete with the Jets for Bell.

The Jets were just spurned by linebacker Anthony Barr, and the latest word is that the team was going to use some of the newly available money to make “a last and final big offer” to Bell.

Bell opting for another team would remind of the Jets’ 2018 Kirk Cousins pursuit, which involved a better offer than the Vikings submitted. Cousins revealed the Jets were the leverage team that drove up the Vikings’ price. It is unclear, however, if another team will enter the Jets’ ballpark for Bell.

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