The details of Le’Veon Bell’s contract with the New York Jets are beginning to emerge. While this isn’t yet definitive, Jason at the superb site overthecap.com has put together a preliminary breakdown of what the contract looks like here.
Looking over the details, it appears that the salary cap hits over the four years of the deal are as follows:
Year 1 $8.5 Million
Year 2 $13.5 Million
Year 3 $15.5 Million
Year 4 $15 Million
It appears that by the third year of the contract the Jets can cut Bell with just a $4 million cap hit. That makes this in essence a two year, $26 million deal with Jets options for years three and four.
I was not one of those in the get Bell camp originally due to the cost and amount of guaranteed money it was speculated would be required to retain his services. However, if Jason has gotten the basic structure of this deal correct, Mike Maccagnan and the Jets have done an excellent job of limiting the Jets risk for a player of this magnitude. Obviously when you’re going after an All Pro player you’re going to have to take on more risk in terms of how long you’re on the hook before you can realistically rid yourself of the contract if the performance isn’t there. Great players require big commitments, or you don’t get a deal done. For this player, in the prime of a career on a Hall of Fame trajectory, having an escape after two years with just $26 million committed is a relative bargain. That doesn’t mean there is zero risk for the Jets; with a commitment this size, every player carries the risk of injury, lack of motivation, or decline in play that could make the deal go sour. That can’t be helped if you want a player of this magnitude in the prime of his career. But this deal, with this structure, if Jason is more or less correct on the details, can only be seen as a big win for Mike Maccagnan, the Jets, and Sam Darnold, who will benefit greatly from the All Pro talents of Bell.
If you’re wondering how this deal shapes up compared to past deals for running backs of comparable skills over the years, taking into account salary cap inflation, overthecap.com has recently introduced a nifty contract history tool that compares contracts over the years, adjusting for cap inflation. This, too, says the Bell deal is an excellent value, with this contract being only the 25th most expensive deal for a running back since 1996, after salary cap inflation is taken into account. I don’t know how that can be interpreted as anything other than a win for the Jets.
Anyone familiar with my work over the years is probably aware I have grown increasingly critical of the Mike Maccagnan regime as the losses have mounted and the talent on the rosters have sunk towards the bottom of the league. However, it is important to review each deal on its own merits, and here I think we have to give credit where credit is due. This is an excellent deal and has the potential to be a major win for the Jets if Bell is able to stay healthy and perform anywhere close to the standards he has set in his career.