The New York Jets signed running back Le’Veon Bell, the top available free agent on the market, to a 4 year, 52.5 million dollar contract with 35 million guaranteed. This move was something the Jets absolutely needed to do to take advantage of Sam Darnold’s rookie contract and they succeeded adding the best offensive playmaker the franchises has had since Curtis Martin on a contract, that while expensive for a running back, is not cost prohibitive to the team making needed additions elsewhere.
I’ll refer back to my steakhouse analogy on why the Jets had to land Bell
The Jets got a 250 dollar gift certificate to a nice steakhouse. Darnold is the steak they order, at a special holiday discount rate. They still have enough to spend on the meal to pair it up with a good bottle of wine and two quality sides. Instead of the wine, they could just order a bottle of soda and have some money leftover for the next time they come back but unfortunately when they do, they won’t be able to pair everything above together because the steak is going to be way more expensive then. So, they have a rare opportunity to get the wine with the steak and still afford two sides. When you can get the perfect meal, get the perfect meal. Don’t shortchange the steak by having a glass of Diet Coke with it.
Bell will do more than just improve the team’s running game. He is an elite pass catcher out of the backfield for his position and is terrific in pass pro. In 2017, Bell caught 85 passes for 655 yards and has been over 75 receptions in two other seasons. He has never averaged under 4.0 yards per carry and has 20 total touchdowns over his past two seasons. He is on a Hall of Fame trajectory and still in his prime.
This deal is not without risks. Bell sat out the entire season in 2018 in a bizarrely, unique stand off with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has acquired notable amounts of tread on his tires through five seasons and has previously been suspended by the league for breaking the substance abuse policy.
Running back is also the most replaceable position in the NFL, from a team building standpoint, it is generally not smart to invest substantial resources at the position. However, the Jets needed to take big swing at course correction this offseason because of how much they neglected that side of the football in recent years, how poorly they’ve drafted and signed other free agents, and because they have Darnold on his rookie contract. At a certain point, you need go outside the box to shake things up in an organization that has completely stagnated on any success in the past 8 years. There are plenty of scenarios where this doesn’t work out and the Jets roster still needs plenty of work but if this helps Darnold get better faster and reach a different ceiling., it is worth every penny.
Let’s score points.