Very late last night the top running back in the NFL free agency signed with the New York Jets. The contract is for 4 years and worth $52.5 million—and $35 million of it is fully guaranteed.
This is a huge deal for a running back and it’ll shake up the market quite a bit.
With Bell in New York, he is going to help Darnold, not only with his running game but in the passing game, too. Bell was one of the most productive backs when catching the ball in space and making people miss. He also takes some pressure off Darnold in his second year so he can focus less on shouldering the franchise’s long-time issues and more on trying to win football games—something a Jets QB hasn’t had in quite some time. He also provides a legit thread running the ball, and his patient running style is conducive to even a lackluster offensive line, which is what the Jets currently have. And sure, paying big bucks for a running back is always a contentious move in the NFL, but this gives Darnold someone to dump the ball off to in situations where he previously had to take sacks or chuck up a jump ball (which often ended in interceptions).
As well, the other additions that the Jets made on the defensive side of the ball, they seem to have started to square away the issues that have plagued this team for what seems like a millennium. The Jets have lacked legit, certified talent on the roster for some time, but now they have that, and a little bit of a safety net to develop their young QB, and a defense that should be improved. On top of that, they have a chance in the draft to continue to build on what they’ve done in free agency.
They still need to improve the O-line and a few other holes, but this is progress. You could argue that there’s a pretty decent chance this team makes a run at the playoffs. There’s a conversation to be had. And they’re certainly in better shape than the Giants.
Le’Veon is a top talent in the NFL and the Jets managed to swoop in and snagged him. Now, the New England Patriots get to see Bell twice a year and although Bell doesn’t get the Jets past them, it brings the competition that much closer. With other names still out there, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets just kept pulling in guys trying to get over the hump that is the Patriots. It makes the AFC East, at least, more entertaining. But the Pats will still come out of the division.
There is a little bit of awkwardness from Bell and the Jets, though, because he had tweeted earlier to a fan that $60 million wouldn’t be enough for him to play with the Jets—apparently, it only took $35 million guaranteed. Bell actually took less money guaranteed to play with the Jets this year than what he would’ve got last year with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’ll be interesting to see what else the Jets will do in free agency, keep your ears and eyes open for more. Can Le’Veon make a real difference in green? Possibly. But he’s certainly not the whole solution.