The New York Jets are trying to trade running back Le’Veon Bell, a league source confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday.
Bell, apparently unhappy with his role in coach Adam Gase’s offense, has $6 million remaining on his 2020 salary — fully guaranteed. That will make it difficult to move him before the Nov. 3 trade deadline, but both sides appear motivated to end the marriage.
The Jets’ desire to trade Bell was first reported by the New York Daily News.
Bell has disappointed since signing a four-year, $52.5 million contract last year, as he has averaged only 3.3 yards per carry with the Jets — 51st out of 53 qualifying runners in the NFL during that span.
After Sunday’s 30-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Bell refused to speak with the media but “liked” several tweets that suggested he should be traded because Gase has misused him. On Monday, Gase made it clear he didn’t appreciate Bell’s method of communication.
“I hate that that’s the route we go with all this instead of just talking about it, but it seems that’s the way guys want to do it nowadays,” Gase said.
This wasn’t the first dustup between Gase and Bell. They also had a disagreement in training camp, when Gase removed Bell from an intrasquad scrimmage, and Bell criticized him on Twitter. They cleared the air in a long meeting afterward.
Bell, who pulled a hamstring in the Jets’ Week 1 loss to the Buffalo Bills, returned to the lineup Sunday and carried the ball only 13 times for 60 yards. He was targeted only once in the passing game. On numerous occasions, Gase has talked about getting Bell more involved as a receiver.
Bell’s tenure with the Jets got off to a rocky start when it was reported that Gase was not in favor of signing Bell. He was overruled by then-general manager Mike Maccagnan. Gase felt it was too much money for a running back.
The Jets also engaged in trade talks for Bell last October at the deadline, but his contract was too burdensome to move.
If they trade him now, the Jets almost certainly will have to eat some of Bell’s salary, which totals $8.5 million in base pay. They’ve already paid him $3.5 million in guaranteed roster bonuses (March 31), with another $1 million guaranteed due on Thursday.
This doesn’t reflect well on Gase, whose job is in jeopardy after an 0-5 start and major struggles by the offense. In July, the Jets traded All-Pro safety Jamal Adams, who criticized Gase on his way out.
If the Jets deal Bell, they can use Frank Gore and rookie La’Mical Perine, who had no offensive snaps in Sunday’s game.