Just a short while ago a giddy Le’Veon Bell penned a four year deal with the New York Jets with the running back revealing he felt ‘amazing’ having spent last year effectively out of the sport due to his contractual games with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Part of the reason for his gap-year was driven from a monetary perspective – no doubt – but he’s attempted to stress that a ‘long term contract’ and feeling ‘valued’ were the key drivers behind his decision to move.
The deal with the Jets is worth a guaranteed $34 million and Bell seems chuffed with the change; he followed his new team as a kid due to his love of idol Curtis Martin and their pursuit of him. Their early conversations since joining, has made him feel more respected than he was in Pittsburgh where he felt quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a different relationship with team management to the other players and that Roethlisberger even looked down on his teammates.
There was a time when Bell thought he’d spend his career with the Steelers, but all the factors mentioned combined to make Bell feel like the ‘stars aligned’ when sealing his move. So how are we discussing the possibility of the Jets being happy to trade him already, when he’s not even featured for them yet? And will anyone take him?
The answer to the second question is a reasonably straight forward one – yes, there would probably be several suitors out there for Bell if the Jets decide to push for a move but, in truth, that development still looks a little unlikely. Rumors began circulating after General Manager Mike Maccagnan and the personnel Vice President Brian Heimerdinger were relieved of their duties earlier in the month; reports suggest that Adam Gase – the Jets head coach – doesn’t fancy Bell as a part of his plans, certainly not in the long term.
If true, that in itself would imply there are far bigger issues in New York than a single player – how can a team structure allow for such a big player to be signed if the coach doesn’t see him as part of his plans? That’s a question the Jets will need to answer should the team fail to deliver results in the new season.
There has been some noise that the San Francisco 49ers could be interested in Bell despite failing to land him whilst a free agent; although reports suggest a deal was reasonably close before Bell opted for the Jets. What’s a more likely outcome to this situation is that Bell stays in New York this year and then the viability of a move next close season becomes an easier deal to arrange.
The important thing for Bell, as a football player, is that he does what he’s good at – regardless of where he ends up. Many perceive last season as a petty waste of a year and another bit-part season won’t do his stock any good as that could really generate questions over his mentality. That would be a real shame for a player of his quality; but that quality is exactly why Gase should be looking to utilize his new man.
America’s line NFL features the Jets in their ‘not hot 10’ and they have a strong case for putting them there after a poor campaign. One of the biggest issues they faced was their lack of runners – or certainly the lack of quality runners. They have a solution amongst their ranks in Bell, who is a complete player in that role; if they let him go and struggle again then they could become a laughing stock and Gase could come under serious pressure.