In a somewhat surprising move, the New York Jets released running back Le’Veon Bell late Tuesday. The three-time Pro Bowl running back’s tumultuous stint with the Jets ended not even two years after it began. Reports of a disconnect between head coach Adam Gase and Bell emerged almost immediately after the running back arrived, and 17 games later, here we are.
Gase in particular has been widely criticized for how he has chosen to utilize Bell after the Jets signed him to a four-year, $52.5 million deal in 2019. In his 17 games with the team, he averaged a career-low 3.3 yards per carry, and he had 1,363 total yards and four touchdowns.
“After having conversations with Le’Veon and his agent and exploring potential trade options over the past couple of days, we have made the decision to release Le’Veon,” the Jets said in a statement. “The Jets organization appreciates Le’Veon’s efforts during his time here and we know he worked hard to make significant contributions to this team. We believe this decision is in the best interests of both parties and wish him future success.”
Bears Dubbed Top Destination for Le’Veon Bell
Bell, who turned 28 this year, will likely have several teams interested in acquiring his services, and the Bears are among those deemed a top fit to land him.
Bears should be calling Bell’s people right now. He’s a perfect replacement for Tarik.
— DaBearsBlog (@dabearsblog) October 14, 2020
I’d be all for the #Bears kicking the tires on Le’Veon Bell. We shall see if they do.
— Aaron Leming (@AaronLemingNFL) October 14, 2020
Bears maybe? Making calls now. https://t.co/efp67GZpER
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) October 14, 2020
Bell could add extra dimensions and a new flavor to this Bears offense, particularly after they lost Tarik Cohen for the season. Despite a less than stellar showing during his time in New York, his career numbers are still quite impressive. He has 6,199 yards and 38 touchdowns on the ground, averaging 4.2 yards per carry.
Bell has also been excellent catching passes out of the backfield, hauling in 381 receptions for 3,160 yards while catching eight touchdowns throughout his career. He would be a great fit in Matt Nagy’s offense because he’s fast, he has good hands, and he’d give Chicago an undeniably formidable weapon on an offense that doesn’t scream playmakers.
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Le’Veon Bell Salary: The Bears Could Get Him Cheap
If they’re interested, the Bears should be able to get Bell for a very reasonable price. The Jets are still paying him $6 million in guaranteed money, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he landed in a situation slightly better than the one Leonard Fournette is in with the Bucs. Considering the dip in his recent performance, Bell cannot command a ton of cash, but he’ll likely ask for somewhere in the $3-4 million range, which Chicago can absolutely afford.
As far as the Bears are concerned, their level of interest in Bell could depend on how much they like what they’ve seen from veteran Lamar Miller, who they signed to their practice squad with the hopes of elevating him to the roster eventually.
“If Lamar’s healthy, he’s an explosive player,” Bears running backs coach Charles London said this week, per Chris Emma of 670 The Score. “The last true season he played, he was a Pro Bowl player. He’s got a really diverse skill set — in the run game, protection, pass. I’m looking forward to seeing him go out there and compete.”
Considering London’s comments, I doubt the Bears will sign Bell. Right now, it looks like they’ll see what they have in Miller — but never say never. They have been known to surprise before, and adding Bell would certainly improve their offense.
For his part, Bell seems ready for a fresh start with a new team. “Got a lot to prove. I’m ready to go,” Bell Tweeted after his release.