Updated 1 hour ago
Momentum is building for the New York Jets to sign Le’Veon Bell in the offseason.
New York Daily News writer Manish Mehta posted a story about why the Jets should heavily pursue the Steelers estranged running back, assuming he does officially hit free agency after this season.
Regarding Bell’s handling of his contract situation, the piece is far too rosy and complimentary. It completely buys into the “Running Back Rosa Parks” myth I’ve tried to bust in the past. Most of the tone of the story paints Bell as a noble, resolute trailblazer, going so far as to say “Bell’s doubters foolishly believe that he’s driven primarily by money without realizing that there’s a distinct difference between being motivated by cold hard cash and understanding your true worth.”
There is? Well, what’s that difference exactly? That sounds to me like an attempt to create nuance where none exists. Because his true worth this year was $14.5 million according to a collective bargaining agreement his union signed. That wasn’t enough for him.
Nor was the five-year, $70 million contract he was offered by the Steelers, which reportedly would’ve paid out around $33 million dollars for the first two years unless Bell walked away or smoked himself into another suspension.
Make no mistake, Bell was motivated by one thing and one thing only: to get as much money as he can.
Which is fine.
However, we should avoid portraying Bell as a football warrior dying to get on the field but is just confined by those pesky principles of his, as he tries to untether all of his fellow NFL superstars from the restraints of their pauper-like existences.
Gimme a break.
Mehta makes some other assertions about how good of a fit Bell would be in New York, how important he would be to Sam Darnold’s development, how desperate the Jets are for a player like him, and how good he could still be once he returns to the field.
I agree with all of those arguments whole heartedly. In fact, I advanced some of those same beliefs this week.
— Jets Wire (@TheJetsWire) December 17, 2018
Most eye-catching may be some of the quotes from former Steelers teammates of Bell’s now with the Jets, as they cosign on the notion of New York chasing Bell in the offseason sweepstakes.
Tackle Kelvin Beachum: “I think he has a desire to prove people wrong that say that he took this year off and then he’s going to shut it down (after getting paid). I think he has even more of a chip on his shoulder to actually go and do something.”
Nose tackle Steve McLendon: “He’s the ultimate great teammate, who will sacrifice anything for his teammates. He loves his teammates. We all understand this is a business. I respect everything that he’s doing. He’s just a great teammate, a great dude, great player. Don’t get that contract stuff confused. He understands that his body is his business.”
I’m not sure if the “ultimate great teammate” says he’ll report on the franchise tag, then changes his mind a few weeks later, leaving the club with $14.5 million in cap space they can’t use. I’m also not sure if the ultimate great teammate uses emojis to mock his team’s early-season troubles like Bell did this year when he was absent.
But if what McLendon is trying to say is that when Bell is in uniform, he plays great and works hard, then, yes. I echo that.
And I echo the rest of the piece. The Jets should sign Bell. He could get the money and exposure he wants. They could get the skilled offensive superstar they need.
They’ll never get to a Super Bowl together, mind you. But then again, I guess that never happened for him here either, did it?