- Longtime Jets beat writer for New York Daily News
- Syracuse University graduate
New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell, the subject of rampant trade speculation, isn’t going anywhere in 2020.
That was the message delivered Tuesday by Jets general manager Joe Douglas, who addressed Bell’s future with reporters at the NFL scouting combine. Douglas said there have been no trade discussions, adding that he has no plans to shop the former Pro Bowl back.
“There hasn’t been talk as far as him going anywhere,” Douglas said. “We’re excited about Le’Veon. Le’Veon has been a great teammate. I can’t tell you how great he’s been. … We’re excited to have him.”
In other news, the Jets acknowledged for the first time an interest in signing All-Pro safety Jamal Adams to a contract extension. Douglas said there have been “some preliminary discussions” with Adams’ agent, adding, “The plan is for Jamal to be a Jet for life.”
Adams is under contract through 2021, including his fifth-year option, but he said recently he wants a new contract before the season.
He and Bell were floated in trade talks at the league’s trade deadline last fall, raising questions about their future with the Jets.
Bell, 28, who came to the Jets last offseason on a huge free-agent deal, had the worst statistical season of his career. In 15 games, the former Pittsburgh Steelers star rushed for only 789 yards on 3.2 per carry, totaling only four touchdowns as a runner and receiver.
Douglas defended Bell’s performance, attributing to his poor numbers to a substandard offensive line.
“I wouldn’t say his play declined,” Douglas said. “His numbers probably aren’t where he would want them to be. I think we need to do a better job of opening holes for him. We need to put him in a good position to be as productive as he was in Pittsburgh.”
Truth is, the Jets probably couldn’t trade Bell even if they wanted to. He’s due to make $13.5 million in 2020, all of which is fully guaranteed. It’s an immovable contract unless they agree to pay a large chunk of his salary, and that appears unlikely.
The Jets can move on from Bell after the 2020 season, when there’s no guaranteed money left in his contract.
Coach Adam Gase, speaking at the combine, said he’s not sure if Bell is planning to attend the voluntary portion of the offseason program. The chances are slim, considering he usually works out with a personal trainer in South Florida. Bell was a no-show last offseason, except for the mandatory minicamp.
Citing Bell’s work ethic and football aptitude, Gase said it’s “not a huge deal” if the Jets star stays away again. That stance seems to contradict what Gase said at the end of the season, when he said he was hoping to spend time with Bell in the spring so they could watch tape and search for ways to maximize his strengths.
On Tuesday, Gase tried to strike an upbeat note.
“He’s been great for us,” said Gase, whose relationship with Bell has been scrutinized since day one because of reports that he didn’t want to sign him. “He’s done everything I’ve asked him to do. He tried to do things the right way. What anybody else says, I think we’re to the point where we really don’t care. As long as our relationship is good, we’re good.”
Regarding free agency, the Jets are planning to meet at the combine with the agent for wide receiver Robby Anderson, their top in-house free agent. Douglas called him a “dynamic” player, yet the sense is that Anderson will hit the open market.
Fellow receiver Quincy Enunwa is progressing in his rehab from a serious neck injury, Douglas said, but he still hasn’t been medically cleared. He has an upcoming doctor’s appointment that “will be big for him,” the GM said.
Enunwa’s $6 million salary, which becomes fully guaranteed on March 22, already is guaranteed for injury. So is $4.1 million of his $7.8 million salary in 2021. If he’s released with a failed physical, he will be entitled to $10.1 million in injury guarantees, which would count against the 2020 cap.
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