The Jets have released running back Le’Veon Bell just one year and a few games after the team signed him to a four year, $52.5 million contract with $27 million guaranteed. Bell never clicked with the team from day 1 and after spending a few weeks on IR was somewhat critical of the team for his role in his return and that was that.
What the Jets are doing here is anyone’s guess. While Bell was not going to have much trade value they likely could have at least found someone to take on some of his contract in a trade. Even if no trade partner could be found the team could have held out hope that he would have been claimed on waivers if released after the trade deadline. The Jets season is going absolutely nowhere and they could have featured him for a few weeks in hopes that they bumped his value. Instead they just decided not to deal with it and cut him.
This fighting between the players and front office has been nightmarish for the Jets in the Adam Gase/Joe Douglas era. Last season they had a situation with Kelechi Osemele that saw them release him when he stated he was hurt which led to a grievance. They fined injured wide receiver Quincy Enunwa. Jamal Adams fought with the team until he was traded. Now this.
The Jets will carry a dead money charge of $15.062 million for Bell in 2020 and another $4 million in 2021. Bell’s contract does have offsets so the Jets will get a credit for any salary earned with another team this year. That will be under $650,000 if he signs for the minimum.
This may end up going down as the worst contract in the history of the Jets which is saying something. Bell will end up earning $27.531 million from the Jets for 17 active games and 863 rushing yards. He also added 500 yards receiving. The Jets free agent decisions in the Mike Maccagnan era ranging from an old Darrelle Revis to an ineffective Trumaine Johnson, to the injured CJ Mosley and Quincy Enunwa to this Bell deal have to rank among the worst runs ever for a franchise. That has seemingly continued into the Douglas era which has consisted of ill fated signings thus far of Ryan Kalil last summer and Breshad Perriman this year.
For Bell this signals the end of what really has been a three year ordeal dating back to his decision to not sign an extension with the Steelers and instead play on and then later sit out on a franchise tender. The Steelers offer was stronger than the Jets contract and would have prevented him from having this experience with the Jets.
The Jets meanwhile look like as much of a mess off the field as they are on it. They are way beyond the point of being able to spin anything positive for this move other than the most ardent supporters that will claim the Jets need the locker room to be harmonious. Its going to be a long road back for this team as they try to change from an expansion team to a competitive team in the NFL.