Following a 2019 season where he didn’t come close to the numbers he used to produce with the Pittsburgh Steelers, it looks like New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell might not be playing for the team much longer, as predicted earlier in the week by SportsNet New York.
In the latest edition of his “Jets Mailbag” column for SNY, Ralph Vacchiano wrote on Wednesday that he feels the team’s general manager, Joe Douglas, did a good job with New York’s middle-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. According to Vacchiano, former Florida Gators running back La’Michal Perine filled a need for the Jets as one of their fourth-round picks, as Bell doesn’t have a capable backup and might be “likely gone” after the 2020 season.
Commenting on the above speculation, Bleacher Report wrote that Bell, who signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the Jets in the spring of 2019, initially had $27 million of guarantees in his contract. However, if New York chooses to release him after the 2020 season, that would result in a mere $4 million salary-cap hit. The outlet added that the Jets could stand to save as much as $11.5 million if he gets cut after June 1, 2021.
The possibility of the Jets releasing Bell this offseason was also discussed, but since the organization will be left with $17 million in dead salary-cap space if this happens, Bleacher Report noted that this doesn’t appear to be a likely scenario.
Don't forget how dominant @LeVeonBell can be.
Looking back at the BEST PLAYS of his career so far! pic.twitter.com/OUktIHiBNx
— NFL (@NFL) March 15, 2019
As shown on his Pro Football Reference page, Bell’s 2019 season was his least statistically productive since the 2015 campaign, when he saw action in just six games and rushed for 556 yards and three touchdowns. Last year, the 28-year-old saw action in 15 games for a 7-9 Jets team, rushing for only 789 yards and three touchdowns, with a career-low average of 3.2 yards per carry. During his time with the Steelers, which ended when he sat out the entire 2018 season due to a contract dispute, Bell was named to three Pro Bowls and was a two-time All-Pro selection.
Although Bleacher Report observed that Bell’s struggles in 2019 were largely a result of a subpar offensive line that has since been retooled ahead of the 2020 season, the publication stressed that he will need to regain his form and improve his production in order to justify his lucrative contract.
Bell isn’t the only key player on the Jets whose future with the team might be up in the air. Trade rumors have long been swirling around safety Jamal Adams, though as The Inquisitr reported last week, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones debunked reports suggesting that his team was planning to acquire the defensive back for their first-round pick in this year’s draft.