After multiple years of franchise tags, including an entire season last year in which he sat out, running back Le’Veon Bell has finally signed a long-term deal.
Bell has agreed to sign with the New York Jets for four years and $52.5 million, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported just after midnight on Twitter. The deal, which includes $35 million in guaranteed money, per Schefter’s ESPN write-up, will become official when the league year begins Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m back in the green baby, let’s get it,” Bell tweeted minutes later. The running back played his college ball at Michigan State, which like the Jets wears green uniforms.
The Jets had been considered the Bell frontrunner heading into the offseason, and reports earlier Tuesday had named the Jets a finalist for Bell, along with the Baltimore Ravens, per Newsday.
The arrival of Bell in New York will bring some star power to MetLife Stadium, just hours after another star offensive player, Odell Beckham, Jr., was traded from the New York Giants to the Cleveland Browns, in a move that has set off an open revolt among Giants fans.
Bell, who at 27 is in his prime, had played his entire career for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who drafted him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. The Steelers placed the franchise tag on Bell before both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, meaning that he was not allowed to leave as a free agent. Bell agreed to play for the Steelers in 2017, but did not report to the team in 2018, ultimately holding out for the entire season.
Le'Veon Bell, Jets Reportedly Agree to Contract; RB Announces with Mixtape - Bleacher Report https://t.co/tr08tknppO— John S. Wilson (@JohnWilson) March 13, 2019
The decision to sit out angered not only fans of the team and those who had picked Bell in their fantasy football leagues, but Bell’s teammates as well. Steelers players plundered Bell’s locker, according to a CBS Sports report in November, and even the team’s designated player rep, Ramon Foster, ripped his own teammate’s holdout, per writer Joe Rutter. Pittsburgh also did not trade Bell during the holdout.
The Steelers now find themselves lacking in star power, following the losses of Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown, who was traded over the weekend to the Oakland Raiders.
With the Jets, Bell joins quarterback Sam Darnold and a relatively young roster under new head coach Adam Gase, although another star free agent, linebacker Anthony Barr, reneged on an announced deal with the Jets Monday and decided to return to the Minnesota Vikings.