Jets, Le’Veon Bell marriage on the rocks? Time to think trade

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With two games before the Oct. 29 NFL trading deadline, the New York Jets need to think long and hard about dealing running back Le’Veon Bell, a square peg in what has become a round hole of a season.

It might be wishful thinking because of Bell’s enormous salary, one that caused almost immediate buyer’s remorse. He’s earning a guaranteed base salary of $8.5 million, which means he still will be owed $5 million at the deadline. No right-minded team will trade for that price tag, so the Jets would have to eat some of the money and maybe get creative by including a late-round draft pick in the package.

At 0-5, the Jets are going nowhere and they should devote the remainder of this lost season to evaluating rookie La’Mical Perine, who has talent but was curiously ignored in Sunday’s 30-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. It’s time to think about the future. They can ride with Perine and Frank Gore, giving Bell the “Get out of jail” card he apparently covets.

After refusing interview requests following Sunday’s game, Bell — targeted only once Sunday as a receiver — decided to vent his frustration in a passive-aggressive way. He took to social media, which he has a habit of doing when things don’t go his way. He “liked” at least three tweets by members of the media, one of which suggested he should be traded because Jets coach Adam Gase doesn’t know how to use him properly. The other two noted his lack of involvement in the passing game.1

Bell hasn’t spoken to the media since pulling a hamstring in the Jets’ season opener, which resulted in a three-game stint on injured reserve. This has been a frustrating season for him on many levels, and it’s not hard to connect the dots. In training camp, he sparked a brush fire by criticizing Gase’s decision to pull him out of an intrasquad scrimmage — and he did it on Twitter. He certainly sounds like a man who would rather be elsewhere.

Bell had a prominent role Sunday, playing 45 of the 64 snaps and rushing for 60 yards on 13 carries. The 4.6 yards per carry average was actually a full yard higher than his 2019 average, the worst in franchise history (minimum: 200 carries). But on one of the biggest plays of the game — fourth-and-1 from the Arizona 8-yard line — he got stuffed for no gain. That wasn’t all his fault; the blocking broke down. But later, on a third-and-1 pitch, he showed no speed to the corner and got stopped for zero yards. nike

Gase always talks about how he wants to use Bell in the passing game, how they need to get him in space. He lined up three times as a wideout, per NFL Next Gen Stats, but wasn’t targeted on any of those plays. His only catch (for 7 yards) came out of the backfield. Yes, Bell has lost at least a step, but he’s still capable of contributing because of his unique skill set. Once again, he was under-utilized.