Le’Veon Bell sat out a full season while considering where he’d make his next playmaking moves. Well-rested, motivated and armed with a new contract, the star running back is joining Sam Darnold and the New York Jets.
Bell was immediately welcomed by the Jets and their fans. “Welcome my brutha @LeVeonBell,” linebacker Avery Williamson tweeted. “I’m in Miami brotha,” safety Jamal Adams tweeted at Bell. “We going up tonight!!!”
The deal gives Darnold and new coach Adam Gase a big-time playmaker. Bell was arguably the best running back in the NFL before he opted to sit out all of last season rather than sign a franchise tender with Pittsburgh. The 27-year-old Bell is a two-time AP All-Pro selection and three-time Pro Bowl pick who immediately upgrades the Jets’ backfield.
Bell’s career reached a crossroads, however, last year when he declined to sign his one-year, $14.4m franchise tender with the Steelers and made himself ineligible to play. It was an unprecedented move as Bell who received the franchise tag in two straight years skipped a season in his prime to preserve his long-term health and secure a big payday.
The Jets pounced on a player they think can help Darnold take their offense to another level despite the fact Bell hasn’t played since Pittsburgh’s playoff loss to Jacksonville in January 2018. That means it will be a span of 19 months in between game appearances by the time the preseason begins in August.
The move to get Bell was the latest in a busy two days for general manager Mike Maccagnan and the Jets, who also have agreed to deals with linebacker CJ Mosley, wide receivers Jamison Crowder and Josh Bellamy, and are re-signing defensive end Henry Anderson and backup cornerback Darryl Roberts. New York also acquired left guard Kelechi Osemele from Oakland over the weekend.