As the Jets get close to training camp, I am examining the roster and giving you my top 25 players. Each weekday, we will reveal another person on the list, leading right into camp. I am not including rookies on this list because I do not feel it is possible to fully evaluate them before they play a game.
No. 4: Le’Veon Bell
Last year’s ranking: 1
Age on Opening Day: 28
How acquired: Signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract as an unrestricted free agent on March 13, 2019.
Years left on contract: 3
2020 Salary Cap figure: $15.5 million
Looking back at 2019
The Jets made a big splash in free agency when they signed Bell last year. His first season, though, was a disappointment.
Bell never showed the form that made him a star with the Steelers and the marriage between Bell and coach Adam Gase felt awkward all year. Former GM Mike Maccagnan was the driving force behind signing Bell and when he was fired in May it came out that one of the major disagreements between Gase and Maccagnan was about committing big money to a running back.
Bell ended up starting 15 games, missing one game with the flu. He rushed 245 times for 789 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged a career-low 3.2 yards per carry. Bell’s longest run of the year was 19 yards. He only ran for 36 first downs, way down from the 71 he ran for in 2017 and 70 in 2016.
Bell had 66 catches for 461 yards and one receiving touchdown on 78 targets.
Maybe the most stunning statistic from Bell’s first season is zero games with 100 rushing yards. His season-high was 87 against the Ravens.
PFF graded Bell 20th out of the 58 running backs who qualified. He was 10th in receiving grade among running backs.
Submit your Jets questions here to be answered in an upcoming Post mailbag
Outlook for 2020
It is now or never for Bell with the Jets. Bell has two more years left on his contract after this season, but it feels like the chances are slim he will be a Jet in 2021. There is no guaranteed money in his contract after this season. The Jets would save $9.5 million against the cap by cutting him before next season with a $4 million dead money charge.
What happened with Bell in 2019 depends on where you want to place the blame. A poor offensive line, a bad scheme fit and the year off in 2018 all contributed to the issues Bell had. But some of the blame also should be placed on Bell. He did not look as explosive as he had in years past. He only had two rushes of 15 yards or more and his long was 19 yards (not counting plays nullified by penalty).
What is interesting is PFF rated him the 20th best running back out of 58, the exact same ranking he had in 2017 from the site. So maybe this is who Bell is now and looking for the running back we saw in 2015 and 2016 just is silly. Bell is 28 with a lot of mileage on his tires. It would not be shocking if he has taken a half-step back.
Gase needs to figure out how to best use Bell this season and that may be by using him less. The addition of Frank Gore could help Bell by taking some of the load off of him. The Jets wore Bell out a bit at the beginning of the year when Sam Darnold was out with mononucleosis. Bell looked tired in the middle of the year and then refreshed late in the season after he missed a game.
Share this article:
Source: Read Full Article