If the New York Jets really want to part with Le’Veon Bell, these five teams should pursue a deal for him in the offseason.
The NFL trade deadline has become more active in recent years, but one report on Tuesday really came out of left field. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reported the Jets were looking to trade running back Le’Veon Bell before the 4 p.m ET deadline.
Bell has been a big disappointment so far this season, with 349 rushing yards (3.2 yards per carry and one touchdown and 32 receptions for 187 yards and another score through seven games. Some of the issues around him were easy to see, but others like quarterback Sam Darnold missing time with mono and an enlarged spleen, were not easy to see coming.
Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract ($27 million guaranteed) with the Jets last offseason. His signing appears to have been a source of disagreement between head coach Adam Gase and since-fired general manager Mike Maccagnan, with a report suggesting Gase did not want Bell (likely with the cost in mind though).
According to Spotrac, a trade of Bell before Tuesday afternoon’s deadline would leave a total of $13.19 million in dead money on the Jets’ salary cap over the next two years. An acquiring team would have taken on cap hits of $1.7 million, $13.5 million, $11.5 million and $13 million from here to the end of Bell’s contract.
But the fully guaranteed money on Bell’s deal goes way after the 2020 season. That gives the Jets an out, with a $4 million dead money hit to take on in 2021, while also possibly making a trade more palatable for an acquiring team looking to next year.
Spotrac and Over the Cap differ on the exact numbers, but the Jets’ dead money hits drop if they trade Bell between the start of league business in March regardless of if a deal happens before or after June 1. A trade would even allow them to clear some cap space.
Even with a significant contract in play, other teams will have interest in Bell if the Jets want to move him once the offseason comes. In particular, these five teams may see themselves in a win-now time frame and swing a deal.
5. Buffalo Bills
Mehta pointed to the Bills as a team that use a “bell cow’” back like Bell ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline, as they sit at 5-2 and try to bolster their status as a legit contender. Devin Singletary has shown some promise as a rookie this season, but looking to 2020 the depth chart dries up with Frank Gore on a one-year deal and T.J. Yeldon easy to part with one year into his two-year pact.
Cap space will not be an issue for Buffalo to acquire Bell, with over $88 million available right now (third-most in the league, via Over The Cap). Maybe they part with a future draft pick of two in an effort to make a push next year, while Josh Allen is on his rookie contract and there’s financial room to make a notable addition or two.