Le'Veon Bell
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Former New York Jets quarterback Teddy Bridgewater could deliver the missing piece of the puzzle for a potential Le’Veon Bell deal.

A ghost of the New York Jets’ past could help deliver an elite offensive skill player to the green and white. Let me explain how the Jets could somehow leverage Teddy Bridgewater into Le’Veon Bell.

The first part of this story is vital because without it, the second part of the story wouldn’t be possible. That of course was the acquisition of veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

The Jets entered the offseason with no future at the quarterback position and had to find a way to solve a 50-year old question: who was the quarterback of the future? The Jets initial gameplan of Kirk Cousins didn’t work out for a variety of reasons. Lack of money was not one of them. Gang green offered the biggest deal, but it was used as a leverage tactic for the Minnesota Vikings to increase their offer. Keep it classy, Kirk.

Ironically enough, the Jets backup plan at quarterback was a different purple people eating quarterback named Teddy Bridgewater. He was a relative cast-off by the rest of the NFL landscape. Heck, even his old team — the Vikings — threw him and his medical status under the bus saying there may be lingering issues that may never be corrected. The Jets, fortunately, didn’t take the Vikings word and decided to kick the tires on Bridgewater.


Bold strategy, Cotton. It seems like it paid off.

It sure did. The Jets made an initial $500K investment that ended up being an even $1 million investment financially. The expectations for the Jets was a simple kick of the tires. Let’s see what happens. If his knee regresses, we’ll cut him and absorb the loss of money. If he works out, then we have a steal. Although they didn’t put all their eggs in the Teddy basket though, they did their due diligence which ended up evolving into the selection of USC rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.

New York Jets

Fast-forward a few months and the Jets suddenly had a first world problem they’ve never had the luxury of experiencing: too many good quarterbacks. After proving the doubters wrong, Teddy became one of the most highly sought after backup QBs in the league. The great thing about the Jets situation is they had options.

If Darnold wasn’t ready, he could’ve ridden the pine with Bridgewater and eventually sell him off to the highest bidder. But Sam was ready and the Jets were giddy with his potential, but with Teddy only on a one-year deal, he had no real future with the Jets. So the team moved him for a premium draft choice (2019 third rounder) and moved on with just two quarterbacks on the roster in Josh McCown and the aforementioned Darnold.

That was the critical first half of the story that now sets up what is potentially to come. Jets fans are hoping that means Le’Veon Bell ending up in Gotham. Well if the Jets traded for Bell, it would have to cost a fortune right?

Wrong.

Here’s where things get interesting. If the Steelers just let Bell go in free agency in 2019, they’d likely receive a 2020 third round compensatory pick. So it’s likely that’s where the trade negotiations with other teams will start.

But there’s a ton of risk involved with a trade of this magnitude:

  • Bell has had a long track record of issues that have resulted in several league suspensions.
  • Bell will receive the franchise tag for running backs for the 2019 season (which is north of $14 million).
    • He can only play on the tag this year, no contract extension can be agreed too with whatever team trades for his services. So, in other words, he’d be a rental for the 2018 campaign.
  • He has a ton of mileage on the tires, despite being only 26-years-old (will be 27 by the start of the 2019 season). Over the last two years, he’s averaged over 400 touches.

Considering these finer points, the Steelers have zero leverage in negotiations and on top of that, it has obviously become a huge distraction for the team. Bell and the Steelers are not going to work, they won’t tag him for a third straight year next season because it would cost the team over $25 million for a running back.

Spoiler alert, that’s not happening.

The value for Bell is a conditional second at best, but more than likely the team would take a third in 2019. It would get rid of the distraction and they’d get their compensatory pick for Bell a year in advance for the same round. Tell me the Steelers wouldn’t sign up for that?

But even with all that under consideration, the Jets need to make this move. Arguments can be made that it’d be silly investing that kind of money in a running back when clearly the Jets have more pressing needs. But name an elite offensive player on the Jets. I’ll wait.

Bell is more than just a running back. He’s also a No. 2 wide receiver. He’s a perfect scheme fit in the Jeremy Bates offense and would provide Darnold a legitimate weapon that can be used in the backfield and heck, even out wide.

The reason the Jets can afford to make this move goes back to the beginning of this story: Teddy Bridgewater. How ironic is it that the Jets two most important pieces in Sam Darnold and potentially Le’Veon Bell would be acquired via Jets cast-offs?

Bridgewater provided an additional third-round pick that can be used to get Bell. While remembering Sheldon Richardson provided an additional second-round pick in 2018 via the trade with the Seattle Seahawks. That pick was vital in the acquisition of Darnold. The world works in mysterious ways.

New York Jets

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