Le'Veon Bell

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.

AFC East Notes: Pats, Gostkowski, Jets, Bell

Mohamed Sanu joined the Patriots in late October, but the veteran receiver believed he was going to land with the organization much earlier. As Jeff Howe of The Athletic writes, the Rutgers product expected to be drafted by New England during the 2012 draft, and he later opted for a lucrative payday from the Falcons when he hit free agency in 2016. Now, during his ninth year in the NFL, he’s finally on the Patriots.

“The draft, free agency, and now it happened – it’s kind of been like a long time coming, like it was almost meant to happen,” Sanu told Jeff Howe of The Athletic.

The 30-year-old also discussed his chances of sticking with New England for his entire career.

“That’d be cool,” Sanu said. “You never know. I just go where everything falls, take it day by day. Whatever happens, happens. I do my part, do my best, be a great teammate and do my part, whenever I can to help this team win…Now that I’m here, it’s time to go to work. I’m very excited.”

Sanu had a standout game for the Patriots during last night’s loss, hauling in 10 receptions for 81 yards and one touchdown.

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

  • Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski underwent successful hip surgery and was back at the team’s facilities last week. Meanwhile, it was revealed that third-round offensive lineman Yodny Cajuste will likely miss the entire season as he recovers from quadriceps surgery. Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia told reporters (including ESPN’s Mike Reiss) that the rookie would likely have a redshirt season: “That’s probably a pretty good way of approaching or saying it. He’s probably not ready to do anything and probably won’t be until next year. That’s the way I see it.”
  • Elandon Roberts has had to fill in at fullback for the Patriots following injuries to James Develin and Jakob Johnson. However, the linebacker isn’t planning on making a permanent position change; Reiss writes that Roberts is still a “full-time participant in defensive and linebacker meetings.” While the 25-year-old indicated that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win, he views the fullback position as an “extra” priority.
  • Jets running back Le’Veon Bell is set to undergo an MRI on his injured knee, coach Adam Gase told reporters (via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano on Twitter). The coach also acknowledged that he’s uncertain when the veteran suffered the injury, as Bell only reveled the ailment this morning.
  • While Jets cornerback Darryl Roberts has love for “the loyal fans,” he wasn’t too happy with those who criticized the team following their loss to the Dolphins yesterday. You can check out the Instagram rant for yourself thanks to Joseph Staszewski of the New York Post.

Extra Points: Coaches, Bears, Bell, Tomlin

About halfway through the 2019 NFL season, one head coach has already been fired (Jay Gruden), and several more are on the hot seat. With that in mind people’s attentions are starting to turn to the next crop of head coaches, and it should be a pretty busy carousel this offseason. The league has begun their annual process of internally identifying top head coach and general manager candidates, and a committee will meet again in Week 11 to come up with a list, sources told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. La Canfora notes that Stanford coach David Shaw has been “receiving ringing endorsements and has very strong support within the league,” although he has rebuffed NFL advances in the past.

La Canfora also highlights several current NFL assistant coaches who have already talked about heavily. Interestingly, he identifies some potential new general manager candidates who we haven’t heard as much about. La Canfora writes that there is “heavy support” for fired Giants GM Jerry Reese to receive another job. “Former Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland, former Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie and former Lions GM Martin Mayhew are also generating support from the committee,” La Canfora writes. He also throws out ESPN analyst Louis Riddick as someone who is highly regarded, and we’ve heard those same rumblings before.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Miles Sanders has played a big role for the Eagles this season, and he racked up 73 yards in their win over the Bears on Sunday. Apparently, as the rookie revealed to the media earlier this week, he almost ended up in Chicago. “I thought I was going to end up there,” Sanders said of the Bears, who didn’t have a pick in April’s draft until the third round, via Zach Berman of The Athletic. “They knew I was probably going to be gone before the third round, but they were also talking about trading up to get me,” he said. The Penn State product was the second running back taken in the draft, and the Bears ended up nabbing David Montgomery in the third round. Sanders has been a part of a timeshare backfield with Jordan Howard so far.
  • Jets running back Le’Veon Bell surprised everybody by saying the Steelers called about trading for him at the deadline, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirmed they did. Not so fast says Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin, who replied “not to my knowledge, no,” when asked if the Steelers tried to acquire Bell, per Mark Kaboly of The Athletic (Twitter link). It’s possible the truth lies somewhere in between, and the most likely scenario is that the Steelers made an exploratory phone call but never got at all serious about it. Bell coming back to the city he started his career in would’ve at least made a dull trade deadline a lot more interesting.
  • In case you missed it, the Seahawks apparently thought about adding Antonio Brown before claiming Josh Gordon off waivers.

Deadline Fallout: Harris, Jets, L. Williams

Despite a great deal of hype, Tuesday’s trade deadline went out with a whimper. As Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, that was largely because the presumed sellers — most notably the Bengals, Redskins, and Broncos — overvalued their assets. It was expected that Cincinnati’s and Washington’s stubbornness could torpedo potential deals, but Denver was similarly obstinate. For instance, the Broncos were asking for a second-round draft pick for CB Chris Harris when the market dictated that a fourth-rounder would be an appropriate return.

Now for more deadline fallout:

  • Jets RB Le’Veon Bell recently said that his former club, the Steelers, were interested in re-acquiring him in advance of the trade deadline, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirms that Pittsburgh did indeed speak with the Jets about Bell. However, when it became clear that the shoulder injury that James Conner sustained in the Steelers’ win over Miami last Monday wasn’t as serious as it first appeared, talks with Gang Green cooled. Bell wasn’t the only RB the Steelers were interested in, per Schefter, but he was easily the most prominent.
  • At least one team tried to blow the Jets away with an offer for defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, as Schefter writes in a separate piece. The unnamed club thought New York would be unable to turn down the blockbuster package of draft picks, but Williams was deemed untouchable by the Jets’ front office, and Gang Green stuck to its guns.
  • We already heard that the Giants would try to work out a contract extension with the newly-acquired Leonard Williams, but Schefter says Big Blue will open negotiations before Thanksgiving. Of course, it could be difficult for player and team to agree on Williams’ value, and Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com believes that Williams is going to test free agency (Twitter link).
  • The Rams traded Aqib Talib to the Dolphins in a pure salary dump, as they gave Miami a 2020 fifth-rounder just to take on the remainder of Talib’s contract. Peter Schrager of the NFL Network says Talib believes he will be healthy enough to return to the field this season but is unsure as to whether he will suit up for Miami (Twitter link). He may elect to cool his heels before he hits the open market in March, but he holds no ill will towards LA.

Jamal Adams, Le’Veon Bell May Be Traded In 2020

The trade deadline has come and gone, and Jamal Adams is still a member of the Jets. That’s largely because New York’s asking price of a first-rounder and two second-rounders for its star safety was too rich for rival clubs, but before the Jets started asking for draft picks, they asked for players.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, when the Cowboys called the Jets to discuss an Adams trade, New York GM Joe Douglas asked about the availability of Dallas guard Zack Martin and left tackle Tyron Smith. Dallas made it clear that neither offensive lineman was available, and the Cowboys’ best offer ended up being a first-round pick and backup corner Anthony Brown. However, as Rapoport observes, Douglas’ initial ask is suggestive of how he plans to construct his roster going forward: from the inside out.

Dallas’ and Baltimore’s interest in Adams was previously reported, though Rapoport says the Jets received double-digit phone calls on the 24-year-old. RapSheet adds that a third team actually put forth the strongest offer, though who that team is and the details of the offer are presently unknown.

But the fact that Adams will be with Gang Green for the rest of the year does not mean that he will be with the club in 2020. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com believes Douglas will end up dealing Adams prior to the 2020 draft, and Cimini cites Adams’ “overreaction” to the trade rumors as one of the primary reasons for his prediction.

Adams’ post-deadline public comments in which he voiced his frustration and surprise that the Jets would even think about trading him are emblematic of what Cimini deems a me-first mentality that Adams has begun to display, a mentality which also manifested itself in a locker room blowup during halftime of last week’s loss to the Jaguars. Whether one agrees with Cimini’s characterization of these incidents or not, it seems true enough that Adams’ tenure with the Jets could be drawing to a close (especially given that he will be extension-eligible for the first time after this season).

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports also hears that Adams could be dealt in 2020, and JLC’s sources suggest that Adams and Le’Veon Bell may be traded at next year’s combine. La Canfora adds that the Jets were eager to move Bell and cornerback Trumaine Johnson at the deadline, but there was little interest in them because of their salaries. And while the Jets will surely not find any takers for Johnson in 2020, other clubs may be willing to take the plunge on Bell, and Adams will remain a hot commodity.

But for what it’s worth, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv believes the Jets should build around Adams, Bell, Sam Darnold, and Quinnen Williams and not subject the club’s fanbase to another teardown. As many have said about the division-rival Dolphins’ rebuild — draft picks are great, but a rebuilding outfit needs core players too — the Jets should not blindly pursue premium draft capital at the expense of their foundational pieces.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Le’Veon Bell: Four Teams Had Trade Interest

The Jets reportedly considered moving Le’Veon Bell ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline, and the veteran running back says the Steelers, Packers, Chiefs, and Texans all expressed interest in acquiring him. Appearing on his SiriusXM show “17 Weeks,” Bell said he heard through his agent that those four clubs were trying to trade for him, as Joshua Axelrod of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes.

Pittsburgh, clearly, is the most surprising possible destination mentioned by Bell, as he just left the Steelers organization after a tumultuous 2018 in which he sat out the season rather than play on the franchise tag. Given all that went down between Bell and the Steelers, it’s difficult to imagine Pittsburgh’s management re-acquiring the running back, even if he is now placated with a long-term contract.

The Packers, too, seemingly don’t make much sense as a landing spot given the continued breakout of Aaron Jones and the steady presence of backup Jamaal Williams. Houston, meanwhile, has already traded for two running backs — Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde — and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle says the Texans were not interested in picking up Bell (Twitter link). Kansas City has deployed LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams with middling results.

“The Jets were really asking for a high price and a lot for me,” Bell said. “On top of that, my actual contract was kind of tough for teams to deal with, which is understandable. Not too many teams want to pay that high of a price for a running back.

“To be honest, I was not trying to take a pay cut, simply for the fact that I sat out a full year of football to get what I earned and deserved. That would’ve kind of defeated the whole purpose, so I didn’t want to do that.”

Bell’s remaining salary in 2019 would have been manageable for just about any team in the NFL, but he’s owed more than $13MM in 2020 between his base salary and roster bonus. Most of that money is fully guaranteed, so a club like the Steelers (who have less than $4MM in available 2020 funds) would have been hard-pressed to take on that contract.

New York Notes: Bell, Jets, Williams, Giants

On what turned out to be a slow deadline day, the Jets’ negotiations involving Jamal Adams turned out to be the top story. But more came out of New York this week. Here is the latest on the Jets and Giants, beginning with a key Jet that was not dealt:

  • Douglas says he did not shop Le’Veon Bell, but the first-year Jets GM did admit that he listened to offers for both stars (Twitter link via Brian Costello of the New York Post). The Jets were rumored to be shopping Anderson, and Adam Schefter of ESPN said during a Tuesday TV appearance the team was asking for a second-round for the contract-year wideout. Both Bell and Anderson are set to finish the season with the Jets.
  • The Jets‘ trade talks with the Giants started weeks ago, Douglas says (Twitter link via Manish Mehta of the Daily News). Remarkably, they managed to keep the rumors away from the New York tabloids before they pulled the trigger on the historic deal that sent Leonard Williams to the G-Men.
  • The Giants will obviously try to lock up Williams beyond his current deal, but no one can really agree on his value, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY writes. Some have speculated that Williams could land ~$100MM based on his age and potential. Others, meanwhile, think he’s looking at something closer to a deal worth $10-$12MM on an average annual basis. When and if a deal gets done, it could very well land in the middle, Vacchiano hears from execs, with a five-year, $75MM deal with about $20MM guaranteed.
  • Moving back to non-trade business, the Jets worked out a few notable veterans on Tuesday. Cornerbacks Trevor Williams and E.J. Gaines auditioned for Gang Green, with Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio noting (via Twitter) linebacker Ramik Wilson did as well. Williams has been with both the Cardinals and Chargers this year, while the Bills released Gaines via August injury settlement. A member of the Rams’ 2018 NFC champion squad, Wilson spent time with the Jaguars and Cards this year.