NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It took a while for him to make up his mind, but it appears superstar running back Le’Veon Bell has indeed decided to sign with the Jets.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news just after midnight Wednesday. Bell will receive $52.5 million over four years, and includes $35 million guaranteed.
A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Bell sat out the entire 2018 season due to a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team that drafted him in the second round back in 2013 out of Michigan State.
During his first five NFL seasons, Bell proved to be arguably the best dual-threat back in the league, rushing for 5,336 yards and adding 312 receptions for another 2,660 yards, with 42 total touchdowns.
That skill set is exactly what the Jets wanted to add to their offense, which has struggled mightily over the last several years. The 26-year-old’s presence figures to take an enormous amount of pressure off of second-year quarterback Sam Darnold, who many believe will develop into the franchise quarterback the Jets have been in search of for decades.
Bell’s contract will become official at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, when the new NFL year begins.
Earlier Tuesday the Jets were dealt a blow when linebacker Anthony Barr walked away from the multi-year agreement he had with New York to return to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Jets entered the legal-tampering period before the official start of free agency with a little more than $83 million in salary cap space, following the trade with the Oakland Raiders on Sunday that brought two-time Pro Bowl guard Kelechi Osemele to New York.
General manager Mike Maccagnan, who is under enormous pressure to end the Jets’ eight-year playoff absence, then got to work early on Monday, reportedly reaching multi-year deals with wide receiver Jamison Crowder and receiver/kick returner Josh Bellamy.
Maccagnan followed those moves up by agreeing to a five-year, $85 million contract with C.J. Mosley, arguably the best linebacker available, during the early morning hours on Tuesday.
Late Tuesday night, prior to the Bell fireworks, Maccagnan reportedly re-upped defensive end Henry Anderson for three years and $25.2 million.
The Bell deal won’t be the last for the Jets as they entered this week with 26 open roster spots. They are expected to add a center, may want to find another linebacker to make up for the loss of Barr and need at least one more cornerback.
Please stay with CBSNewYork.com for more on this developing story.