Le’Veon Bell has agreed to sign with the New York Jets for four years and $52.5 million — $35 million guaranteed and the possibility to go up as high as $61 million with incentives.
Nothing will be set in stone until 4 p.m. today, when the new league year officially starts.
Bell, who grew up a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, said he wanted to remain a Steeler for the entirety of his career. He had the chance in 2017, but turned down Pittsburgh’s reported long-term offer that would have paid him $13.3 million per season. And last year, Bell declined the Steelers’ five-year, $70 million deal that included $33 million guaranteed.
Instead, Bell opted to skip the entire 2018 season instead of playing under a franchise tag that would have paid him $14.5 million.
The 27-year-old running back was a second round pick out of Michigan State in 2013.
With the Steelers, Bell was selected to the Pro Bowl three times and made the first-team All-Pro twice.
Bell has totaled over 5,000 rushing yards in his tenure in the NFL, averaging 4.3 yards per carry with 35 rushing touchdowns.
A threat on the ground and as a receiver, Bell will leave the Steelers, who recently traded star wide receiver Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders, to join a Jets team that does not quite have an identity.
This offseason, the Jets have made several attempts to strengthen its weak offense by signing injury-prone wide receiver Jamison Crowder from the Washington Redskins to a three year, $28.5 million contract with $17 million guaranteed.
The Jets were also reportedly going to sign linebacker Anthony Barr from the Minnesota Vikings, but Barr got cold feet after agreeing to a deal with New York, saying he felt “physically sick” afterwards.
The Jets will likely sign a defensive lineman in the upcoming draft, but still need someone at center to protect quarterback Sam Darnold in his sophomore season.