NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Jets may be desperate to put some weapons around young quarterback Sam Darnold, but they’re not that desperate.
They want Le’Veon Bell, but aren’t about to put an overly massive dent in their expected $100 million in salary cap space this offseason to get him.
That’s according to Daily News beat writer Manish Mehta, who reported Thursday that the team has some concerns about Bell’s motivation after sitting out the entire 2018 season due to a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Again, the Jets’ interest in the star running back is legitimate and warranted, as evidenced by Bell’s production over his first five years in the NFL and New York’s willingness to allow safety Jamal Adams, the de facto captain/spokesman for the team, to recruit him as a free agent. Adams reportedly met with Bell’s agent at the Pro Bowl, though the extent of the conversation is not known.
But according to Mehta and his sources, the Jets won’t do whatever it takes to land Bell. That doesn’t mean they won’t pay him a fair wage, but in case there are other teams with interest they won’t get caught up in a bidding war. Bell is expected to have suitors, assuming the Steelers don’t put the franchise tag on him for the third straight season, something that seems quite unlikely considering Bell would be in line for around $20 million in 2019, after flatly refusing to play for $14.5 million this season.
The three-time Pro Bowler hinted on Twitter earlier this season that he’d be interested in joining Andrew Luck in Indianapolis, but, as Mehta points out, the Colts may not be inclined to spend big on a running back after getting a very cost-effective season out of youngster Marlon Mack this season. Mack is signed through 2020.
Mehta reports that in addition to the Jets it’s possible the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders and the Miami Dolphins will also have interest in Bell.
Bell would instantly give the Jets a premier playmaker on offense, something they haven’t had in ages. His pass-catching ability is as good as his slashing approach as a runner. Bell, who will turn 27 on Feb. 18, has 5,336 yards rushing, 2,660 yards receiving and 42 total touchdowns in 62 career games.
The Jets are expected to use their considerable cap space to address multiple positions, including the offensive line and wide receiver. They will also have a big need for an edge rusher in new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams‘ 4-3 scheme, something they could solve with the No. 3 overall pick in the draft.