RB Le’Veon Bell signing with Kansas City Chiefs

By Zac Wassink | Last updated 10/15/20

Veteran running back Le’Veon Bell didn’t remain available for long. 

Two days after the winless New York Jets announced that they were parting ways with the three-time Pro Bowler, Bell told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (h/t Adam Teicher) that he’s signing with the 4-1 Kansas City Chiefs. 

The defending Super Bowl champions fell to the Las Vegas Raiders last Sunday for their first loss of the year. Kansas City is averaging 119.4 rushing yards per contest.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter added Bell’s contract is a one-year deal. 

Bell, 28, averaged a career-worst 3.2 yards per carry in 15 games with the Jets last year after he sat out the 2018 season following a contract dispute with the Steelers. He now joins a backfield that features rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire as its top ball-carrier. Edwards-Helaire rushed for 138 yards and a score in a season-opening win over the Houston Texans but hasn’t hit the 100-yard mark or found the end zone since. 

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Teams that could sign Le’Veon Bell in free agency

Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Vincent Frank | Last updated 10/14/20

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that embattled New York Jets head coach Adam Gase didn’t have a great relationship with running back Le’Veon Bell. In fact, there were rumors surrounding the Jets this past offseason that they were looking to move on from Bell.

This is now once again the case 19 months after the Jets inked Bell to a four-year, $52.5 million contract.

The Jets on Tuesday announced the release of the high-priced veteran after yet another spat with Gase.

On Monday, Bell took to Twitter liking posts from fan accounts recommending that the Jets opt to trade the former All-Pro back.

In response, Gase seemed more upset about the public nature of the supposed trade demands than the actual substance behind them.

Gase was upset about Bell’s social media activity while calling Le’Veon Bell out himself in a public manner. That’s about as cute as it gets. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

In reality, this was just a continuation of Gase showing himself in a bad light. This also adds another layer to major rifts between the head coach and his now-former star players in the Jets’ locker room.

Bell, 28, signed one of the richest contracts for a running back in NFL history back in March of 2019. It came after rumors suggesting that Gase was hellbent on another free-agent ball carrier that spring, Tevin Coleman.

The backdrop here is some major struggles from Bell during his brief stint with the Jets. After sitting out the entire 2018 NFL season with the Pittsburgh Steelers due to a contract stalemate, Le’Veon Bell has recorded 1,363 total yards and four touchdowns at a clip of 4.1 yards per touch in 17 games with the Jets.

All said, the Jets take a $19.06 million dead cap hit by releasing Bell. He earned north of $18 million playing just 17 games with the team.

With everything mentioned above, there’s still a number of teams that will likely have interest in Bell on the free-agent market. He has past experience and would likely come on the cheap.

Washington Football Team signs Le’Veon Bell

Having released Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson during the offseason, Washington is now in need of some help in the backfield. It is averaging just 81 rushing yards per game on the season. Bell’s receiving ability would also help the team’s struggling passing game.

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Jets RB Le’Veon Bell leaves game vs. Bills with hamstring injury

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 9/13/20

Le’Veon Bell previously denied that there was anything wrong with his hamstring in August, and now it seems otherwise. 

The New York Jets running back left Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills with, you guessed it, a hamstring injury. He’s unlikely to return for the remainder of the game.

Bell had just six carries for 14 yards before exiting the game in the third quarter. He added two receptions for 32 yards receiving. 

The 28-year-old had issues with Adam Gase resting him during a scrimmage because of hamstring tightness, but now it seems like the head coach absolutely made the right call. 

If Bell misses an extended period of time, New York will have to rely on veteran rusher Frank Gore and rookie La’Mical Perine. 

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Seven NFL Stars Who Could Be Traded This Offseason

As the NFL playoffs roll on, eliminated teams focus on the  offseason and potential moves they can make to contend for a Super Bowl  next season. While the 2020 NFL Draft and free agency will offer plenty  of help, the trade market could be especially attractive this offseason.

Rumors from the NFL’s midseason trade deadline offered a glimpse into potential names that could be available. New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton are among the stars that teams will inquire on, but they aren’t alone.

Whether your team needs a great quarterback, an offensive weapon, or a disruptive force on the defensive side, that talent could be acquired this offseason. 

Here are the seven NFL stars who could move this offseason.

Odell Beckham Jr., receiver, Browns

While Beckham has denied wanting out of Cleveland, the numerous reports contradicting this claim bring his future into question. Of course, trade speculation could intensify once the Browns’ new brass settles in.

While it’s unlikely that the Browns will recoup what they gave up for OBJ, landing something could still be worth it. Other NFL teams recognize he played through a painful sports hernia injury this season and Beckham’s willingness to compete in a meaningless Week 17 game with food poisoning speaks volumes about his competitiveness. Everyone would benefit from a change of scenery before the 2020 season.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jamal Adams, safety, Jets

The Jets surprised many during the season by shopping Adams,  but a deal never came to fruition before the deadline. While the front office has made efforts to repair the relationship between Adams and  general manager Joe Douglas, the damage might already be done.

New  York will enter the offseason with numerous needs on both sides of the  ball, so this isn’t a team that is one piece away from contention. The  Jets could benefit from trading Adams for a package of picks, perhaps exploring if the Dallas Cowboys would expand on their original offer.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Trent Williams, offensive tackle, Redskins

New head coach Ron Rivera is making an effort to keep Williams in Washington and convince him this organization has changed. Given all of the drama that unfolded between Williams and the Redskins, including the organization’s decision to withhold his pay, a separation appears likely.

The  31-year-old tackle already took a season off of his career. He can’t afford to waste his remaining years on a team in transition. Williams would greatly benefit from a trade and there are plenty of contenders around the NFL that need a Pro Bowl left tackle. Ultimately, the Redskins should accommodate Williams’ wishes this offseason.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Newton, quarterback, Panthers

Newton’s recovery from Lisfranc surgery and his future in Carolina will be one of the biggest story lines this offseason. While new head coach Matt Rhule is seemingly the perfect coach for Newton and Rhule hinted the star quarterback will remain in Carolina, the fit seems shaky.

Rhule  is building an entirely new culture, which could easily mean finding a long-term quarterback. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Las Vegas Raiders and Chicago Bears enter this offseason with glaring needs at quarterback and Newton, 30, could be the perfect player to put each of them over the top. 

If  the right offer comes, Rhule could easily trade Newton and take advantage of a loaded 2020 draft class to start building a new foundation for this team.

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Originally posted on Sportsnaut  |  By Matt Johnson  |  Last updated 1/14/20

Why 2017 NFL running back class holds key to position’s future

The running back position’s prestige peak occurred decades ago in the NFL. Most teams have steadily devoted fewer resources to acquiring starters at the position, leading to the job’s plummeting value, but major recent investments have thrust running backs into a strange place.

From July 2018-September 2019, contracts given to Todd Gurley (Rams), David Johnson (Cardinals), Le’Veon Bell (Jets) and Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys) transformed a stagnant running back market. Those deals, for the most part, have not benefited the teams. Injuries altered the trajectories of Gurley and Johnson, and Bell has predictably struggled behind a terrible offensive line.

But the next wave of impact talents took the baton; many of this season’s premier backs came from the 2017 draft class. Christian McCaffrey (Panthers) and Dalvin Cook (Vikings) are surging toward All-Pro status, and Aaron Jones (Packers) is not far behind. Pro Bowl rosters will include them and Leonard Fournette (Jaguars), with Alvin Kamara (Saints), Marlon Mack (Colts) and former undrafted free agent Austin Ekeler (Chargers) vying for invites. Add Chris Carson (Seahawks), Joe Mixon (Bengals) and former rushing champion Kareem Hunt (Browns), and that 2017 running back class looks like one of the deepest in the common-draft era (1967-present).

That group has produced this season’s top three in yards from scrimmage, four of the top six touchdown scorers and five of the top seven in rushing yards per game. Despite some previous big-ticket backs’ stocks dropping, the position remains in good hands.

With Bell and Elliott waging memorable contract standoffs, next year promises to be one of the most interesting offseasons involving a single position in modern NFL history. All 2017 draftees become extension-eligible in January. The flood of re-up candidates set the stage for a macro reassessment of the modern running back, following a grim decade for the position. But it wasn’t always like that.

In the 1990s, 35 running backs became first-round picks. Teams’ thinking did not change much in the 2000s, when 32 backs were first-rounders. This decade’s final tally? 16, with none going in the 2013 or ’14 first rounds. Despite the impressive work the 2017 draft class has shown this season, the contract-seeking backs’ signing windows will open in the worst era for such investments.

Elite running backs’ salaries once comprised bigger chunks of teams’ payrolls. Terrell Davis signed for $7.8 million per year with Denver in July 1998, when the salary cap was barely $52 million. That salary would have ranked top five among running backs in July 2018, when the cap stood at $177 million. The needle did not move too far until the summer of 2011, when Chris Johnson signed a $13.5 million-per-year deal with Tennessee, and Adrian Peterson broke through with a $14.2 million-AAV pact with Minnesota. Those contracts soon became relics.

Peterson’s six-year, $85.3 million contract topped the market for years. Teams stopped rewarding ball-carriers on that level, as prices for other positions — including offensive linemen, who have longer shelf lives than the players they block for -– steadily rose. When Peterson’s contract came off the Vikings’ books, the highest-paid running back salary stood at barely $8 million.

Select franchises have taken renewed interest in the position, with Elliott, Fournette and Saquon Barkley (Giants) going in the top five from 2016-18. But the injuries to Gurley and David Johnson, and Bell’s $13.25 million-per-year Jets deal generating 3.1 yards per carry through nine games surely have franchises reevaluating running backs’ worth. How they proceed in 2020 will be telling.

The Panthers and Saints, respectively, rely on the versatility McCaffrey and Kamara provide. They are the modern prototypes, working as premier aerial weapons as well as between-the-tackles runners. McCaffrey is on pace to threaten Chris Johnson’s season scrimmage yards record (2,509); Kamara has made two Pro Bowls and joins Michael Thomas in a dual-engine Saints offense. Although Fournette has a throwback skill set, he drives the Jaguars’ offense. 

Expect extension talks to commence between these three and their respective South division teams next year, with McCaffrey and Kamara possessing intriguing leverage for big-money deals. The others’ negotiating positions — including that of Cook, who plays in a system notorious for running back turnover — are not as powerful.

Elliott holding out after three years and landing a record $15 million-per-year extension should provide a blueprint for McCaffrey and Kamara. Although McCaffrey can be controlled through 2021 via the fifth-year option, he should strongly consider holding out in 2020 rather than risk greater mileage and/or an injury decreasing his value. Fournette’s deal also has a fifth-year option, but because he has not demonstrated McCaffrey-like value, the Jaguars should have more time to consider their options.

The Cook-Kamara-Jones-Mack-Mixon-Carson contingent will enter 2020 on expiring contracts, forcing their teams to make decisions. The uncharted territory between the top tier (north of $13 million annually) and the stratum of Atlanta’s  Devonta Freeman (approximately $8 million AAV) figures to be explored. It would behoove teams seeking to retain their backs long term to strike early, with the prospect of the next CBA changing the landscape.

As the cap keeps spiking by around $10 million each year, the gulf between the Tier 1 and Tier 2 running back salary spectrum will represent better value than it did during the mid-2010s.  However, organizations may play hardball with their backs because of the position’s replaceability, short lifespan and the fallout from the mistakes of the Rams, Cardinals and Jets. Some of these players will then advance to free agency in 2021, making that market unusually interesting.

On the field, this class is on track to push that of 2008 — which produced Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, Jonathan Stewart and Ray Rice — as the 21st century’s best. With nearly a third of next year’s depth charts likely to have a 2017 draftee or UDFA in first-string running back slots, the 15 months between January 2020 and March 2021 will bring major developments for one of the NFL’s most recognizable positions. 

And the latest rising talents will play pivotal roles in how the NFL views the running back position in the 2020s.

https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/why_2017_nfl_running_back_class_holds_key_to_positions_future/s1_13132_30590156

By: Sam Robinson

Le’Veon Bell to sign with Jets

The drawn-out national nightmare involving former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has come to a conclusion.

On the eve of the official start of NFL free agency, Bell has reportedly agreed to sign with the New York Jets.

New York had been seen as the big time favorites to land the stellar all-around running back. That’s now come to fruition.

This is an absolutely huge get for the Jets. A former All-Pro performer in Pittsburgh, Bell will only help young quarterback Sam Darnold in New York’s backfield.

Prior to sitting out all of last season in hopes of landing a more lucrative pay day, the 27-year-old Bell put up 3,830 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2016 and 2017.

The deal is said to be worth $52.5 million over four seasons.

Full Article

By: Vincent Frank

Winners and losers from ‘Thursday Night Football’ in Week 10

Most around the NFL anticipated a highly competitive game between the red-hot Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers on “Thursday Night Football.”

Carolina had won three consecutive games while the Steelers were in the midst of a four-game winning streak. What transpired was anything but competitive.

Cam Newton threw an early pick-six. JuJu Smith-Schuster broke the Panthers’ will with a 75-yard touchdown. Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger had two more touchdowns than incomplete passes.

These are among the winners and losers from Pittsburgh’s blowout 52-21 win over Carolina on Thursday night.

Winner: Vince Williams shows out as playmaker for Pittsburgh

Pressure from T.J. Watt might have forced Cam Newton’s hand. But that doesn’t mean Williams didn’t come away with a game-altering play less than five minutes into the first quarter. With the game tied at seven, he picked off this Newton pass and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown. It was the Steelers’ second score in 13 seconds and set the stage for the remainder of the evening.

Not to be outdone by that one play, Williams also tallied four tackles, one quarterback hit and one sack in the 52-21 Steelers win. He simply played some tremendous football in front of the home crowd at Heinz Field Thursday evening.

Loser: Le’Veon Bell’s value continues to diminish

Pittsburgh’s offense is an absolute juggernaut. It proved this in more ways than one against a good Carolina Panthers defense Thursday night. When all was said and done inside Heinz Field, the Steelers dropped a cool 457 yards and 52 points in one of the biggest blowouts in primetime television that we’ve seen in some time.

Now that Bell’s holdout has continued through nine games, second-year back James Conner continues to show out. He put up 73 total yards on 14 touches, including a touchdown. This led to an official NFL Twitter account trolling Bell big time. The more Conner continues to dominate, the less valuable Bell becomes. Thursday’s blowout win over Carolina was the latest example of this.

Winner: Christian McCaffrey continues recent success

Coming off a brilliant 157-yard performance last week against the Buccaneers, this second-year back came into Thursday’s game on pace for nearly 1,800 total yards this season. Immediately out of the gate, McCaffrey showed why Carolina made him a top-10 pick in the first place. He tallied 60 total yards on six touches, including this 20-yard touchdown catch from Cam Newton, to open the scoring on Carolina’s first drive of the game.

McCaffrey then scored Carolina’s second touchdown in the first half, a 25-yard pass from Newton to pull the game within 24-14. Sure, the Panthers’ defense did nothing to help them win this game. But a star is being born in Carolina right in front of our eyes. All said, McCaffrey gained 138 total yards on 19 touches with all three Panthers touchdowns in the game. That included five catches for 61 yards. He’s in domination mode right now.

Loser: Cam Newton comes up small

All the winners and losers here

By Vincent Frank

FANTASY FOOTBALL RANKINGS: Here’s the expert consensus on the top 50 players

Football season is fast approaching and with it, comes fantasy football.

While there’s no foolproof way of drafting your fantasy team, it’s key to get your first few picks right if you hope to compete for your league’s championship at the end of the season.

With the help of Fantasy Pros, we gathered the rankings of 17 experts from The Athletic, Yahoo! Sports, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, Walter Football, and theScore in order to put together a consensus ranking from experts across the sports world.

Running backs are once again the most vital position in the sport, and quarterback looks to be surprisingly deep this year, though the top QBs will likely still get fantasy players their money’s worth.

Take a look below and plan out your strategy for the first few rounds of your upcoming draft.

One thing to know: Todd Gurley had an absolutely unbelievable 2017, accumulating 2,093 total yards and 19 touchdowns. Those numbers would be tough to replicate, but he’s still almost universally the top overall draft pick for fantasy players.

2. Le’Veon Bell — RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Average Rank: 2.3

One thing to know: Le’Veon Bell has been a top-five rusher for two straight seasons since coming back from his 2015 injury. He’s also an important part of the Steelers passing game for PPR players.

Lev Bell Might Retire or Sit Out If He Gets Tagged Again

Written by Jeremy Fowler at ESPN.com

At age 25 and fresh off a first-team All-Pro season, Le’Veon Bell is putting his own football future in question.

The Pittsburgh Steelers running back told ESPN that he’s prepared to sit out a season, or even retire, if franchise tagged for the second consecutive year.

“I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I would definitely consider it,” he said before Thursday’s practice.

Bell played on a $12.1 million franchise tag in 2017, and that number is projected to increase to around $14.5 million for next season. Teams can tag a player between Feb. 20 and March 6, after which they would have until July 16 at 4 p.m. ET to work out a long-term contract.

 

Last July, Bell turned down a long-term contract that reports said was worth up to $30 million in the first two years because he felt the team didn’t value his full skill set.

Asked what the Steelers should do this offseason, Bell said simply: “Value me.”

“Just get the numbers straight, exactly where we want them. I’m not going to settle for anything,” Bell said. “I know what I do and what I bring to the table. I’m not going out here getting the ball 400 times if I’m not getting what I feel I’m valued at.”

Bell rushed 321 times for 1,291 yards and caught 85 passes for 655 yards, along with 11 total touchdowns in 2017. Bell has 7,996 total yards through 62 career games, which is the most of any NFL player over that span since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, outdistancing Eric Dickerson (7,842), according to ESPN Stats and Information.

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Le’Veon Bell Tweets His Comeback Date

Written by Scooby Axson at SI.com

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell says that he plans to return to the team after their final preseason game, as implied in a tweet on Tuesday night.

Bell was asked by a social media user when he would return to the Steelers, Bell responded “9-1-17.”

Sept. 1 is the date after Pittsburgh’s final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. They open the season on Sept. 10 against the Cleveland Browns.

Bell, 25, has not participated in training camp and not signed $12.1 million franchise tender, as he is seeking a long-term deal.

He could be slapped with the franchise tag against after next season or hit free agency, where he could become the league’s highest-paid running back.

That distinction belongs to Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who earns $8.25 million per year.

Bell ran for 1,268 yards and scored seven touchdowns on the ground and added 75 receptions for another 616 yards last season.

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