Even when stories came out this past offseason that New York Jets coach Adam Gase never wanted running back Le’Veon Bell, it still seemed like it would work out to some degree.
Bell was arguably the best running back in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Gase is a supposed offensive genius, though that claim gets more dubious each season he’s a head coach. It shouldn’t be that hard to figure out ways to use Bell.
But it has been. Bell has had a very quiet season and given how much he got paid, he has to be considered a massive free-agent bust. We can blame Gase, Bell’s holdout last season, the rest of the Jets offense or whatever else, but the stats don’t lie. It hasn’t worked out.
Now what happens in 2020?
Le’Veon Bell has had a bad season
Bell has not had a 100-yard rushing game this year. He has not topped 61 yards receiving in a game. He has just 748 rushing yards, 425 receiving yards, a very poor 3.3 yards per carry and just four touchdowns despite playing a majority of the snaps for the Jets.
That’s not what the Jets envisioned when they signed him to a four-year, $52.5 million deal, of course. The story has been that former general manager Mike Maccagnan was behind the signing, Gase didn’t want Bell and it was part of the reason Gase won a power struggle with Maccagnan that led to Maccagnan’s firing.
ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini pointed out that the Jets could try to move on from Bell after just one season, but it’s really not that easy. A team can’t just dump a $52.5 million contract one year into it.
Jets can’t realistically cut Bell
Cimini said cutting Bell isn’t a realistic option. The Jets would take a $19 million cap hit. His $13 million salary is guaranteed. No matter how bad Bell has been, you can’t pay him a $13 million salary to not play for your team.
That leaves trading him, and that has its challenges too. Cimini wrote that the Jets would have to pay some of Bell’s salary and the price in a Bell trade would only be a fourth-round pick back to New York. Given Bell’s season, and possible concerns about his age, how the year off affected him and his salary, a fourth-round pick seems high. The Jets would have to take on a good amount of that 2020 salary, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a point in trading him then.
This was a bad fit from the start. The dysfunction of the Jets is to blame for that. And after one awful season for Bell, it’s a mess that is hard to get out of for 2020. The Jets are looking at taking a huge loss on a player who was an All-Pro not long ago, or running it back even though the coach doesn’t want him and has no clue how to use him either.
It was a bad first season for Bell in New York, and it’s hard to see how it all works out in 2020.
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