Le'Veon Bell

Jets Place Le’Veon Bell On IR

Le’Veon Bell is set to miss the rest of the Jets’ September slate, at least. The Jets are placing the former All-Pro running back on IR, Kim Jones of NFL.com tweets.

Bell will be out until at least Week 5, with teams having the option this year to activate players from IR after three weeks off the roster. Prior to the IR move, Adam Gase said Bell will be out a couple of weeks with his hamstring injury.

Gase and Bell disagreed over an issue with the running back’s hamstring during training camp, which represented the latest bout of turbulence in the sides’ relationship. The Jets will now turn to Frank Gore against the 49ers. They were down fourth-round rookie La’Mical Perine in Week 1. Perine missed Gang Green’s opener because of an ankle injury.

The Jets signed Bell to a four-year, $52.5MM deal in 2019. Like many of the big-ticket contracts former GM Mike Maccagnan authorized during his four-plus-year tenure, it has not worked out. Bell, whom Gase was reported to have not wanted at that price tag, slogged through a career-worst season in 2019. Should the Jets not be able to find a trade partner, they will almost certainly cut Bell in 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Gilmore, Bell, Callaway

Patriots star CB Stephon Gilmore is set to earn $10.5MM this year, which is quite a bargain when considering that the top of the CB market now features average annual values in the $17MM range. But it does not appear that Gilmore is pushing for a new deal at this time, and though he missed five practices in a row last month, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the absence was not contract-related.

Now for a few more AFC East items:

  • For months, Jarrett Stidham looked like he would be the Patriots‘ starting QB and would serve as the heir apparent to Tom Brady. But now, Reiss says Stidham might actually be the third-stringer behind Cam Newton and Brian Hoyer, and his inability to generate any momentum in training camp has cast his long-term future in doubt.
  • In the same piece linked above, Reiss says that Jermaine Eluemunor has definitively seized the Patriots’ RT job.
  • Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, Jets RB Le’Veon Bell says he has no issues with head coach Adam Gase. In his first comments since his publicly questioning Gase’s decision to pull him out of a recent scrimmage, Bell said, “I don’t understand why everybody is trying to put me and Gase against each other. We’re not against each other. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to believe, but we actually like each other” (via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com). Though Bell may not make it past this year’s trading deadline with Gang Green, it is in his and Gase’s best interests to limit the drama and focus on getting Bell back to his old form.
  • Former Browns receiver Antonio Callaway recently tried out for the Dolphins, as Albert Breer of SI.com notes (via Twitter). Callaway, a 2018 fourth-round pick, has plenty of promise but has had a very rocky start to his pro career, including two separate suspensions for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He hooked on with the XFL’s Tampa Bay Vipers in January but suffered a leg injury shortly after signing, and this is the first time we have heard his name in NFL circles since then.
  • The Dolphins just waived QB Josh Rosen, and as Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald tweets, the team could now reunite with Jake Rudock, who spent last season on the Miami practice squad.

Jets Notes: Gase, Bell, Ngakoue

Earlier this week, there was yet another tense moment between Jets head coach Adam Gase and running back Le’Veon Bell. As Rich Cimini of ESPN.com details, Gase pulled Bell after two series during Wednesday’s scrimmage because of hamstring tightness. That prompted Bell to take to Twitter to say that there was nothing wrong with his hamstrings and that “it’s tough to stay loose when you do a bunch of standing around.”

Gase said that he spoke with Bell for a long time after the Twitter posts and that the two sides are on the same page. But as Cimini writes in a separate piece, the latest episode might not be the last one. Bell has reportedly had an unimpressive camp, and Gase has previously indicated he wants to reduce Bell’s workload in 2020. So Bell, who needs a productive season in order to avoid being cut — or to land a lucrative contract with another club — is unlikely to appreciate his fellow backs siphoning off his carries. It remains a situation ripe for future turmoil.

Now for more from Gang Green:

  • Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News has previously reported that GM Joe Douglas is under cash-flow restrictions imposed by Jets ownership, and he reiterated that report today. He says ownership gave Douglas a “hard time” after last year’s one-year, $8.4MM contract for Ryan Kalil didn’t pan out, and he also suggests that the club’s tight-fistedness prevented the team from pursuing Yannick Ngakoue, who was just traded to the Vikings (Twitter links).
  • On the other hand, the restraint that Douglas showed in free agency this offseason was generally lauded in light of the team’s recent history with splashy signings, so it’s difficult to say whether that restraint was due to a mandate from ownership or just a deliberately measured approach. And as Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets, the Jets were not hugely interested in Ngakoue to begin with given his struggles against the run and the fact that the deadline for an extension passed on July 15.
  • Backup QB Joe Flacco is eyeing a Week 3 return, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Jets signed the former Super Bowl MVP to back up Sam Darnold, and Flacco has been working his way back from neck surgery.

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.