New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell returned to the lineup today after missing three-plus games with a hamstring injury that forced him onto the injured reserve list. But he wasn’t a difference maker for the winless and offensively-challenged Jets, who lost to the Arizona Cardinals 30-10 at MetLife Stadium.
According to multiple reporters—including Rich Cimini, an ESPN NFL Nation Reporter who covers the Jets—Bell declined to talk to the media via video call after the game.
Cimini doesn’t offer a reason why Bell opted out, but it’s reasonable to think he’s frustrated with the way he is being utilized by Jets head coach Adam Gase.
After the game Bell ‘liked’ four different tweets that criticized how he is being utilized (or perhaps more accurately, not being utilized) in the passing game. One of the tweets, from the host of The Jake Asman Show, suggests that the Jets trade Bell, saying, Gase “doesn’t know how to use him so they might as well get a pick for him in this lost season.”
Does Le’Veon Bell Have Trade Value?
Never mind that the Jets probably can’t get much—if anything—for Bell in a trade. Today the former Pittsburgh Steelers back gave the Jets a respectable 13 carries for 60 yards with one catch for seven yards. That brings his season totals to 19 carries for 74 yards, plus three receptions for 39 yards.
But that’s nothing like what a team wants to see from a back who is guaranteed $13 million this season and counts $15,468,750 against New York’s salary cap, this according to overthecap.com.
Other teams are well aware that the Jets will almost certainly release Bell in early 2021 (when he will count only $4 million in dead money on the Jets’ salary cap), at which point they can try to negotiate with him as a free agent.
To be sure, Bell would benefit from going to a team that has a variety of offensive weapons—where he isn’t the No. 1 offensive threat. One reason why Bell was so successful in Pittsburgh is because opposing defenses couldn’t key on him, not when they had to worry about an in-his-prime Ben Roethlisberger, plus big-play receivers like Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant.
But at 28 years old Bell is already on the down side of his career. He has upwards of 1,900 career touches, including a career high of 406 in 2017, the year before he sat out an entire season in a contract dispute.
Can New York Win a Game Before Its Bye Week?
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Jets (0-5) in the next four weeks; their best chance to win before their Week 10 bye week comes next Sunday afternoon at Miami (2-3).
After that the Jets will host the Buffalo Bills (4-0). Then there’s a visit to Kansas City (4-1) for a game against the Super Bowl champion Chiefs. Then there’s another home game, but it’s against the New England Patriots (2-2).
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