The New York Jets have been wavering in this so-called “transitioning” period for quite some time now. As a franchise that hasn’t seen the light of the post season since 2010 (3rd longest drought in the NFL), you’d think that a team based in the Big Apple would be able to turn the tables quick and get back on track.
The Jets, however, have been taking their time – whether intentionally or not.
And now, with their AFC East rival Patriots hoisting their 3rd Lombardi trophy in the past five years, and the Jets failing to reach a winning record in the past three years, things at the top of the franchise seem more fragile than ever.
The free agency legal tampering period for 2019 kicks off in just a few weeks. Every year, this marks an important time for the Jets, and more especially this year, as Gang Green carries a lump sum of holes to fill.
However, the franchise has been continually shallow during this crucial period as of late. Most recently, the Jets lost out on big name free agents in 2018 such as Kirk Cousins, Allen Robinson and Andrew Norwell.
The 2019 free agency class brings along some intriguing names as well. The most talked about is quite obvious if you’ve followed any news surrounding the NFL recently. For those who haven’t, it’s former Steelers’ RB Le’Veon Bell.
Bell, who was once the undisputed best running back in the league, is seeking a massive long-term deal with a team after sitting out the 2018 season with Pittsburgh.
Luckily for the Jets, they have the 2nd highest amount of cap space going into the offseason, only behind the Colts.
Come help us win this Super Bowl brotha!!! Luv https://t.co/oOf0zqjlL9
— Jamal Adams (@Prez) February 23, 2019
Why the Jets should go all in on Le’Veon Bell
In 2018, the Jets ranked 26th in the league in total rushing yards and rushing yards per game, falling pretty steeply from their 19th positioning in 2017, and 12th positioning in 2016. Put it on paper in front of you and it’ll become quite obvious that the running back position is becoming one of the biggest holes in the Jets’ offense.
It makes sense when you take into account who the Jets have had at the position the past few years. Bilal Powell has been nothing more than average as a back up as he battles age and injury. Isaiah Crowell shows flashes here and there, but it’s quite obvious that he’s more of a short-yardage power back than someone who can make cuts and pick up big gains when needed. And then there are the young guys in Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon who the Jets are still experimenting with and seem hesitant to give the leading nod.
Now comes one of the league’s premier running backs to the open market. He can find the holes, catch the ball, and protect the quarterback. Le’Veon Bell seems like a perfect match to compliment the Jets needs.
It makes even more sense when you look at the Jets’ offense as a whole. Receiving numbers were down to 27th in the league in 2018, remaining toward the bottom of the NFL for the third consecutive season. Giveaways on offense were 4th in the league, mostly due to incomplete protection of a young quarterback by a shaky offensive line.
Le'Veon Bell had 85 receptions in 2017 (also had 83 receptions in 2014 and 75 receptions in 2016).
Only one #Jets player since 2006 has exceeded 83 receptions in a single season: Brandon Marshall in 2015.
— Joe Caporoso (@JCaporoso) February 7, 2019
And, oh yeah, Sam Darnold – the Jets’ quarterback of the future, who began to show real promise toward the end of 2018. I think it goes without saying that he could use a proven safety net to further his development the next few years.
Massive Contract Shouldn’t Initiate Fear
The aurora around the Jets continues to bring up the rumor that they are more hesitant than most to spend the big bucks. Yes, they offered the most they possibly could to Kirk Cousins last year, and yes, they may have splurged a little too much on Trumaine Johnson in 2018, however, those continue to be outliers in the Mike Maccagnan days of ownership. The Jets have been stumped by other teams in the past because they fear of pushing the check too far and falling into a deeper hole.
This continues to be the storyline around the Jets chances of landing Bell this spring. Reports have circulated that the Jets “won’t break the bank” for the premier rusher. Things such as weight gain, off-the-field issues, etc. continue to haunt the Jets and lower their position to lock down big name free agents.
However, this time around, it seems the potential return on investment could be too much to pass up.
— Leger Douzable (@LegerDouzable) February 13, 2019
Adding a multi-threat back in Le’Veon Bell immediately enhances the running game (obviously), while it also gives Darnold a stronghold in the passing game whether he utilizes Bell as a receiver or a blocker.
And debatably, it brings a proven leader to the locker room. Le’Veon Bell is someone who, if Maccagnan can lock down, will sell tickets, attract free agents, spark a culture shift, and ultimately save the jobs of everyone in the front office.