Le’Veon Bell is a member of the New York Jets.
The free-agent running back made his much-anticipated decision early Wednesday morning, agreeing to a four-year, $61 million deal with $35 million guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
After being spurned by linebacker Anthony Barr, who reportedly agreed to a deal on Monday to join the Jets, New York took part of his prospective salary and allocated it into one final offer for the former Steelers running back.
It was expected to be the Jets’ final offer to the 27-year-old rusher, who was given an undisclosed deadline on Tuesday whether or not to accept the offer.
While the Baltimore Ravens were rumored to be in the running toward the end alongside New York, they never made an offer.
Bell spent his first five seasons in Pittsburgh before sitting out the entire 2018 campaign. The holdout was predicated on the dissatisfaction of the Steelers’ offer to keep him at Heinz Field. The three-time Pro Bowler was franchise tagged for a second-straight year which would have paid him $14.5 million. Bell had been reportedly searching for a deal that paid him an average of $17 million per season.
ESPN’s Dianna Russini noted that most GM’s believed offers for Bell came in at around the $11 million to $12 million range, far less than he was initially looking for, which could have been a reason why Bell took his time in making a decision after the legal tampering period began on Monday.
However, the Jets — who began the offseason with the second-most cap space available — were able to easily meet Bell’s parameters despite already bringing on linebacker CJ Mosley on a huge deal that will pay him $85 million over five seasons.
It’s a worthy investment that will only help the development of second-year quarterback Sam Darnold. While the Jets continue to look for a true No. 1 wide receiver, Bell is a legitimate option in the passing game out of the backfield. He’s recorded 75 or more receptions in three of his last four seasons.
That’s just an added bonus for his premier running style. The ultra-patient back possesses a supreme vision that finds open the running lanes within the trenches. He’s eclipsed the 1,200-yard rushing mark in each of the last three seasons that he’s played in at least 12 games while sporting a career average of 4.3 yards per carry. His 137.5 scrimmage yards per game since 2014 is the most in the NFL during that span.
That provides a serious upgrade from Elijah McGuire, Isaiah Crowell, and Bilal Powell, who combined to post the NFL’s seventh-worst rushing attack in the Jets’ backfield last season.