Le’Veon Bell refused to report to the Steelers by 4 p.m. on Tuesday and is officially ineligible to play the 2018 season.
This could be good news for the Jets.
The 26-year-old running back will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason and the Jets will likely be in the market to upgrade their backfield.
In fact, OddsShark — an online sportsbook — is placing the Jets as the early favorites to land the All-Pro running back in the offseason at +300 odds.
Updated odds on which team Le’Veon Bell will be on for Game 1 of the 2019 regular season (@betonline_ag):
– OddsShark (@OddsShark) November 13, 2018
The Jets are expected to enter the 2019 offseason with approximately $106 million in cap space, per overthecap.com, and have a void to fill at running back.
Bilal Powell is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and Bell would be a significant upgrade over Isaiah Crowell and Elijah McGuire.
Adding Bell could also take pressure off Sam Darnold, who is struggling as a rookie this season, while also giving him another weapon in the offense.
Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders are favored behind the Jets at +500 and the Bucs and Eagles are next, both at +700.
Of course, the Steelers could theoretically franchise tag Bell a third consecutive year, but that would seem counterproductive at this point. They could also use the transition tag on Bell, which would allow them to match any offer, but they would lose a comp pick if they choose not to match so it may be better for them to just let him walk.
With the Jets at 3-7 in the midst of a four-game losing streak and demand for a coaching change, the thought of adding Bell in the offseason can at least provide some optimism for now — at least for those willing to put up with the baggage he brings.