The New York Jets desperately needed to add a playmaker on the offensive side of the ball this offseason, and running back Le’Veon Bell looks like a perfect match for an organization with a talented young quarterback.
It’s been a busy offseason around the NFL thus far, with plenty of big names, including superstar wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown, changing teams. The New York Jets were previously linked with Brown, but they instead opted to add a different weapon from the Pittsburgh Steelers in star running back Le’Veon Bell.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Bell has signed a deal with the Jets worth $52.5 million over four years, and the contract will include $35 million in guaranteed money. How that guaranteed money breaks down – and how much of it is actually fully guaranteed – is unclear, but given that Bell declined a deal from the Steelers last year that included no guaranteed money through the first two years, it’s safe to assume the Jets are committing to the 27-year-old over the long-term.
It’s a significant investment on the part of the Jets, and the overall contract would make Bell the second highest-paid running back in the league on an annual basis, behind only Los Angeles Rams stalwart Todd Gurley.
But that’s the kind of asset Bell can be to the offense, and here are five reasons why this is an excellent signing for the Jets.
5. Sam Darnold needed a playmaker
Last season, the New York Jets offense was 29th in yards per game, 28th in net yards per pass attempt, and 29th in yards per carry. By almost every notable metric, the Jets were a bottom-five offense in the NFL, and, looking at the skill position players surrounding quarterback Sam Darnold, it’s easy to see why.
Aside from wide receivers Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson, the Jets offense didn’t have someone who could produce big plays. Worse yet, Enunwa was the only player who could consistently perform at a high level, which is probably why his yards per reception average slipped to 11.8. Anderson was the only player on the Jets making splash plays, and he and Isaiah Crowell finished the season as the only players on the Jets with at least five touchdowns from scrimmage.
That should all change with Bell in the building, because he immediately becomes the Jets most dynamic player on offense. Bell has two seasons with at least 10 touchdowns from scrimmage, and he has plenty of speed to burn as an outside runner and a receiver.
Darnold seems poised for a big sophomore campaign after showing moments of brilliance as a rookie, making throws into impossible windows. But he was also let down by his supporting cast, which may have played a role in the expected “rookie mistakes” he made under center. Bell is a player that Darnold can come to rely on in many ways, especially since Bell can make explosive plays on his lonesome as long as he gets the ball in his hands.