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Jets Release Le'Veon Bell; Signs With Chiefs

The New York Jets had a problem. Head coach Adam Gase couldn't get along with running back Le'Veon Bell. So they chose Gase, and after a day spent searching for someone, anyone, to trade for Bell and his contract, they gave up and cut Bell loose. 

Bell signed a four-year, $52.5-million contract with New York in the 2019 offseason. He played 17 games in a Jets uniform, gaining 1,363 yards from scrimmage. The Jets are still responsible for Bell's $6 million salary in 2020, but some of that will be offset if he signs with another team.

UPDATE: Bell has apparently chosen the Super Bowl champion Chiefs over the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills.

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78 comments, Last at 18 Oct 2020, 10:03am

1 Tomlin

Tomlin must be a damn wizard to have managed the personalities of two supremely talented players who have managed to crazy themselves out of the league before they should have been done.

4 He really must.  And BigBen…

In reply to by LyleNM

He really must.  And BigBen seems to have his share of issues too.

Anyway Bell got the money he believed he deserved but has barely played football these past three seasons. Can't see him getting resigned next year without a huge pay cut. Should be able to get a 1-year prove-it deal but then he's 30 so nothing longterm again.  Depending on your perspective this hasn't worked out out well for him.

14 As the blurb mentions, Bell…

As the blurb mentions, Bell had offset language against his $6M salary in his Jets contract. Given his production since last playing for the Steelers, nobody is going to pay him more than $6M for this season, so it seems like his options are really to take a minimum salary deal for the rest of the season with a contender, or just sit out the rest of this season and shop around in the offseason.

It's almost a cliche that he would sign with the Patriots, but I think the Chiefs make a lot of sense given his receiving ability and their lack of depth behind CEH.

21 I saw the stuff about offset…

I saw the stuff about offset language which makes him attractive to pick up this year and let the Jets pay for him.

My comments are about his future prospects.  Think he was offered $13m to play on franchise tag for Steelers. Don't know whether or what they offered for a longterm deal but I really don't see him ever getting offered big money again.

30 I was thinking the same…

I was thinking the same thing.  Brown and Bell weren't known, at least to me, to have diva issues with PIT, but clearly they were there.  Roethlisberger's issues have occasionally snuck out into the open, which makes me wonder if they're even worse.

Not that it matters.  What's the point of being rich and famous if you can't indulge in your own crazy?   

Really too early to say if Bell has issues in general, or as a veteran coming from a better run club, he just had issues with Gase.  I guess he had issues with PIT not paying him what he thought he was worth, but that doesn't necessarily translate to him being a disruption in the locker room.

As far as a place to go, NYG has lost their RB #1 for the season ...

33 From what I remember as a…

From what I remember as a fan of the team, Brown originally had a reputation of being team first, hard worker, etc when his career started.  He was begin used as an example for other young players to look up to.

At some point, obviously, that all changed.  That he couldn't handle the success is the most common theory.  I'm worried that he couldn't handle the brain damage. :(

36 Terrell Owens was the model…

Terrell Owens was the model pro when he arrived in San Francisco.

Once Jerry Rice left and TO became the name (especially after breaking the 50-year-old receptions in a game record), TO became an ass.

When his career was on the decline, he went back to being relatively normal.  He never caused any issues in Buffalo or Cincinnati.

But that didn't stop him being an ass when he was finally elected to Hall of Fame and declining the ceremony and holding his own at his high school or college or something.

I suspect both of them have borderline personality disorder issues.

37 Owens may be a very bright…

Owens may be a very bright person, but he makes some pretty terrible decisions and I'm not just talking about related to football. He strikes me as the consummate ball hog and showman. 


I don't know why people think Le'Veon Bell fits into this category. He lashed out against the rightly unfair franchise tag. Then he bristled under a coach who leaked to the media that he didn't want him in the first place. I don't fault him in the least for acting out in both situations.

38 I had a similar thought…

I had a similar thought typed up.  He was f-ed over by management and got salty.  Hard to fault him for that.  Sadly, management was probably acting rationally given the choices they had in front of them, and I can't really fault them for that, either.

42 How was he f'd over by…

How was he f'd over by management? Because they used the "unfair franchise tag" allowed by the two parties' collective bargaining agreement?


Did anyone really think Bell SHOULD have gotten a huge deal? Heck, it worked out pretty much as well as expected, didn't it?


His "performance" in NY (and those of his much cheaper replacement in Pitt) pretty much confirms they did the right thing by not giving him a long deal.

43 The franchise tag is a…

The franchise tag is a pretty insidious tool that the NFLPA allows because it only affects a small segment of their players. Well, lots of things are out there that affect a tiny minority in our population but we should still recognize when something is unfair.

RBs already get screwed by the rookie deal and then the franchise tag means they take all of the downside risk of an injury so its effectively the nfl version of a Vito Corleone style offer. 

47 If Bell had played under the…

If Bell had played under the franchise tag in 2017 and 2018, he would have made a total of $26.6 million.  In 2020, 3 years later, only 3 rbs have an average per year higher than that (CMC, Kamara, Zeke).  Doesn't seem that unfair to me, and if it is, boo fucking hoo.

56 So you're a RB, you play out…

So you're a RB, you play out your rookie contract, which is 4 years. You're being paid peanuts. Team franchises you, you get paid, but you assume all the injury risk. Two more years. Now you're basically almost all used up by the time you can get market value. If you're lucky, you can con a team out of a second contract. If you're lucky.

61 That's simple supply and…

That's simple supply and demand.  Look, I'm not one to side with management, but if you want to be a running back in a 32-team league, you'd better figure out a way to be different than the 30 other NFL-calibre running backs that hit the draft every year.  There's no way that an elite high school athlete should pursue a career as a running back.  Switch to CB or S.  Especially if only making ~15 million post-IRS for a half-dozen years of work.

57 Your point about money and…

Your point about money and using that to dismiss his gripe always makes me chuckle. I don't know what you do professionally, but imagine someone permanently reduced your wages by 30% and redistributed it amongst your coworkers and the company but still expected you to put in the same effort. It would be wholly unfair, even if a kid working in a sweatshop in Bangladesh would compare your earnings to his of hers and scoff at your indignation.

63 His point seemed to be, at…

His point seemed to be, at 26 million dollars, he is not worth having any sympathy for/ worth paying any attention to. 

This view is pretty commonplace, though I like to point out how context dependent it seems. Are homeless in the US worthy of our sympathy even though their lives are orders of magnitude better than a typical street person in India who faces literal starvation and violence on a regular basis.

Scoff at 26 million and I can scoff at just about anyone who happens to have the good fortune of living the 

72 My point was that it's hard…

My point was that it's hard to scoff at the fairness of Leveon Bell's 2017-2018 situation when playing under the tag for those 2 years would have netted him $26 million, and 13 million a year was as much or more than any RB contract signed prior to 2017(even David Johnson's contract signed in 2018 did not exceed 13m a year), and he would have been a UFA after 2018 in this situation or else would have received $20.88MM under a third tag in 2019 (so he would have been a UFA).  

64 His point seemed to be, at…

His point seemed to be, at 26 million dollars, he is not worth having any sympathy for/ worth paying any attention to. 

This view is pretty commonplace, though I like to point out how context dependent it seems. Are homeless in the US worthy of our sympathy even though their lives are orders of magnitude better than a typical street person in India who faces literal starvation and violence on a regular basis.

Scoff at 26 million and I can scoff at just about anyone who happens to have the good fortune of living the us

73 You and others seem to be…

You and others seem to be ignoring half of my point, which is that the difference between Leveon Bell's salary in 2017 and 2018 under the tag and the salary he would have received as a UFA is marginal at best, especially considering the tag in 2017 made him the highest paid RB in the league in 2017.

69 Even though they're not…

Even though they're not railing against the salary cap, they (and everyone else) really should. All it does is guarantee that billionaire owners keep their costs down and depress the hell out of every player's earning potential. 

74 Rookie Deals

Those four-year lockdowns are among the most toxic aspects of the poisonous salary system  in the NFL. What's the average NFL career - 2 1/2 years? So most guys never make it to free agency. The NFLPA is particularly shortsighted and supine but baseball isn't really any better - they actually control players a lot longer with the service time nonsense. You would think that the unions would see that protecting new members as essential to their health but again  and again they screw over new and future members to benefit senior members. Then they gripe when teams drop vets for cheaper rookies. The owners, of course, are far more vile.

77 I’m of the opinion that the…

I’m of the opinion that the salary cap is one of the best devices ever created for sports. Nothing is worse than knowing you’re favorite team has zero chance of winning a championship before the season starts because they’re going to be out-spent by tens of millions of dollars. 

if you want to argue that the cap should be higher or that players should get a higher percentage, fine. But naked capitalism is bad for professional sports. I think a lot of fans would love to see Formula One and European football leagues adopt a salary cap. 

39 Brown and TO's personalities…

Brown and TO's personalities changed after getting hit in the head a bunch of times. Especially with Brown, you can almost see the change from one season to the next after Vonteze Burfect tried to decapitate him in the playoffs

50 Superficially it's a…

Superficially it's a compelling idea.

But lots of players suffer concussions.  Steve Young retired due to them and yet he didn't turn into a megalomaniac.

Your research would get laughed out of peer review if you said two subjects out of thousands was statistically significant, wouldn't it?

35 Why is everyone assuming…

In reply to by LyleNM

Why is everyone assuming this is Bell's fault, and that he's a diva? That's the kind of take I laugh at on PFT

2 Another underutilized player who will flourish away from Gase

Bet on it. Gase demands total allegiance to his way, but the players quickly realize his way is trash and they either balk or quit on him. When they openly balk he does the football equivalent of disowning them. It's a real dumb way to run a team, based on his results so far.

3 Once again, the Onion gets it right — twice!



darn, the full links did not copy.

just search the Onion (sports) for NFLPA and leveon bell.  The first and awesome article is titled, NFLPA Warns Holdouts They Need To Consider The Risk That They’ll End Up Having To Sign With Jets. 

15 He's only 28, but has…

He's only 28, but has already had an intense workload. His first season in the NFL was at age 21, and he averaged 20 carries per game and 5 catches per game in his five years playing with the Steelers. He then got 21 touches per game last year with the Jets despite his ineffectiveness.

I'm not saying he's washed up, if only because it's impossible to accurately assess the effectiveness of any player playing for Gase or the Jets (let alone playing for Gase with the Jets). I'm just saying that it's possible given his workload.

17 There shouldn't be a lot of…

There shouldn't be a lot of surprise if Nick Chubb is on a new team in 2022, especially if Baker keeps up even close-to-average play and has a 5th year option and then $40MM-ish/year after.

Kareem Hunt is close to equal, and was a special circumstance of being able to extend for far below market value due to his off-field issues. The current team management is on the more-analytics end of the spectrum in that regard.

11 Given Gase throws out guys with life still in them

I assume Bell will get offers. Not sure anyone takes him on waivers and "saves" the JETS money. Obviously Miami could use Bell. IDK maybe the Bills could use him. He feels like a Raider, but I think they don't need him. 

22 James White, Rex Burkhead…

In reply to by johonny

James White, Rex Burkhead and the other guy that isn't Dion Lewis. Plus Cam Newton when healthy.

Seem to recall they also started someone I've never heard of against the Chiefs to decent effect.


Edit: Sony Michel was the other but he's on IR. So Bell would be a nice replacement.

19 Adam Gaze: "It is him or me!…

Adam Gaze: "It is him or me!"

Jets: "ok ok ok, we'll let him go"

Gaze: "wow, they really thought it was an 'or'. I'm a genius!"

28 His release has brought up…

His release has brought up some interesting discussion points. Namely, was his failure predictable because a) he was unlikely to be successful on his next team anyway given his age and previous workloads. b) he went to the jets who are a perennial laughingstock or c) its all Adam Gase's fault.

I find it hilarious that more than a few people think a lot of it is because of b) - they are the Jets. Same old Jets. Versions of this argument basically say something toxic is in the atmosphere of the organization that rots every draft pick that comes through the door. Something akin to the Football Team, the Cleveland Browns, and the Cincinnati Bengals.

I find this argument is extremely selective with history and is made entirely with the benefit of hindsight. The raiders were moribund until they hit on the QB and some draft picks. The Browns were a laughingstock for years until they finally hit on a few draft picks and Baker, for whatever he might turn into, is not Brady Quinn, Johnny Manzel, or Brandon Weeden. The Falcons sucked post Vick but landed on Matt Ryan. 

The Jets future is potentially much brighter than people think it is. If Lawrence is the guy and then they hire someone not named Adam Gase and sign a few competent receivers, they are quickly out of the basement. 

29 I thought his future was…

I thought his future was predictable because he wasn't bringing the Steeler's OLine with him.  His slow developing style was a force multiplier behind a great line, but I never expected it to work without at least a rather good line.

46 An important comment. Bell…

An important comment. Bell is effectively a multiplier for the quality of the blocking around him. Sort of like an opposite version of Russel Wilson at QB, where you can get away with a bad Oline more than other quarterbacks.

66 Agreed. Having great vision …

Agreed. Having great vision & knowing where/when to run behind your blocking *is* a great skill, but unfortunately you need a good OL for it to produce valuable results -- and that was pretty much his main value as a runner. He could break tackles well, but didn't have the burst to then turn those opportunities into bigger plays.** (He has his receiving value, but RB receptions are often low-to-negative EPA anyway. Slightly better than runs, but not in line with WR/TE catches).


**Big plays aren't a consistent result & obviously shouldn't be the main statistical way to judge a RB, but they're still a good measure of ability to create yards. IIRC (going off memory b/c PFR's search tools are no longer free & I don't want to search through all my Excel documents), when you look at RB YPC for runs of 11+ yards (ie: not how often they get a big play, but when they do, how big), Bell was always fairly low (with other RBs who are remembered for having good vision & OL, but not as great/dynamic past their blocking).  In 2019 he was 2nd to last (among 200+ carries) in NextGen's RushingYardsOverExpected (per att).


32 "The Jets future is…

"The Jets future is potentially much brighter than people think it is. If Lawrence is the guy and then they hire someone no named Adam Gase and sign a few competent receivers, they are quickly out of the basement. "

I guess the expectation is that based on the franchise's history, they won't do any of those things, or at least that the won't do them well.

Is the on field product a result of bad luck?  the coach?  the GM? or a corporate culture that hires below average coaches and GMs?

If it's bad luck, it'll turn and a franchise QB could be all they need.  If it's a bad coach, it'll be solved someday.  If it's the GM, it could take years after they get a better GM.  If it's the corporate culture, it could take however long it takes for the owners/executives who set the corporate culture to retire (could be decades).


34 I've never seen evidence…

I've never seen compelling evidence that these things are related to the owner entirely. I guess the one exception would be The Football Team, but even they have a sneaky good draft record. 

Maybe Jerry Jones? Although even they have had a pretty good draft record and modicum of success.


I really think it's mostly bad luck. I think most coaches are Dan Quinn level than most people realize. Someone like Adam Gase is terrible but he's more of an extreme case. 

44 No (YES!)

If it's the corporate culture, it could take however long it takes for the owners...

It's ALWAYS about ownership (sorry Rivers, Cincy fans, Browns fans, Loins fans, WTF fans and some others)*


* hadf to channel my inner RJ for this.

54 To chime in on all this, it…

In reply to by Sixknots

To chime in on all this, it's not completely about ownership.  Otherwise the Chargers would have been joke from before the time Eli spurned them through now.  Instead, they were contenders (earlier than the Giants were) in spite of Spanos, who is a much worse owner than the Johnsons.  Obviously, Chris Johnson should have canned MacCagnan when he fired Todd Bowles; as to whether the Jets lost Matt Rhule because MacCagnan wanted Gregg Williams, or because Chris Johnson wanted Gregg Williams is an open question, but usually the Johnsons spend money, where Spanos is cheap to the point that Chargers doctors will injure their starting quarterback.  If MacCagnan had been fired when he should have been, then Bell would not have been signed.  They might have had a working GM/coach team.

As far as Bell being the problem here, he wasn't.  He liked several tweets, and that's it.  The Gang Green Nation board is in an uproar, and they're throwing Douglas on the pyre as well as Gase and the owners, because they now think he's just a puppet of Gase.  That is the problem for the organization now.  As far as Gase keeping his job, he won't.  Woody Johnson will be returning from the United Kingdom soon, before next season, and he will take one look at Chris Johnson's record since he took over in 2017 (now 16-39) and say he can do better.  The only question is whether Douglas survives or not.

58 The Jets have been bad for…

The Jets have been bad for the last five years... Before that they were an average franchise for a long time. I have no idea where people have got the idea they've been run disastrously for decades. Todd Bowles was the first coach since Al Groh in 2000 to not make the playoffs at least once while in charge. Before the 2016 and 2017 seasons you have to go all the way back to 1995 and 1996 to find the last time the Jets had consecutive losing seasons.

67 So Bell narrowed the field…

So Bell narrowed the field to KC, MIA and BUF before choosing KC.  Which suggests there were other suitors, as well.

Since the KC offer is reportedly for 1-year and seemingly incentive weighted, it seems that Bell is betting on his own performance, again, as opposed to seeking a longer deal.  This is a guess on my part, as I haven't heard what other clubs offered, but if he got that many offers in 24 hours, it's likely at least one club tried to stand out with a longer term contract.

At MIA or BUF he would have been the clear RB1, so it's interesting he chose KC where he may not get as many touches as Edwards-Hellaire.  For an incentive rich contract, you'd think he'd want a more certain lead role.

That leaves two other factors possibly tipping the scale to KC.  One, the chance to have Reid as a coach.  Two, the chance at a Super Bowl.  (One and two may be correlated.)

So did Bell change since the NYJ contract, and suddenly realize there were more important factors for him than just who'll pay him the most?  Or am I overthinking things here since Bell's salary is being covered mostly by NYJ this year?

68 I think your two factors are…

I think your two factors are pretty decisive.  A good coach who can adapt to and exploit his players strengths is huge, being in a good offense should also help and team success usualy rubs off onto the individual players. I also don't think CEH is firmly established as RB1.

70 Bell was in fabulous shape…

Bell was in fabulous shape going into the season, got the big contract he wanted, and just wants to win. Being both misused and underused while the offense totally sucked just drove him crazy.  As a Jets fan, I think Jamal Adams is a giant man baby (yet an awesome, likely HOF player).  But Bell had legitimate gripes, unrelated to money.  I'm excited to see what he does on that offense. 

75 I generally find that when…

I generally find that when someone has gripes about one thing; when you resolve it another springs up. They'll always find a gripe. 

Remember TO was happy to go play for Andy Reid and get to a Super Bowl. A year later, he was doing sit ups in his driveway and on his way out of Philly.


76 The story continues. He…

The story continued. He wanted a big contract worthy of his services. He then got it in Dallas, which also satisfied his contender desires. Except then it became about touches and his needing to be the focal point of the passing game, if not the whole offense.

I'm not sure what kind of team would have satisfied TO completely. Even if he had gone to a team with an elite qb, they would have grown weary of his crap pretty quickly. 

Phrased in that way, I am not sure he's a receiver you want on your team.