Report: Le'Veon Bell plans to sign with New York Jets

Finally Le’Veon Bell has the long-term deal he couldn’t land with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Bell plans to sign with the New York Jets. The deal is for four years and $52.5 million and has a max value of $61 million with $35 million guaranteed, according to the report.

The San Francisco 49ers were among Bell’s bidders who “made a strong offer,” according to the report. But the Jets ultimately won out.

The signing ends a long saga that included two franchise tags with the Steelers and one high-profile holdout. Bell didn’t play last season, passing on about $14.5 million in salary for one season. Bell was betting that he could hit the open market this year and cash in big.

Le’Veon Bell was an interesting free-agent case

Bell came into free agency as one of the most intriguing players to hit the market in a while.

Bell’s talent is undeniable. He was an All-Pro in 2014, and then again in 2017 as he played the season on his first franchise tag. In three different seasons he gained 1,800 yards from scrimmage, including 2,215 in 2014.

He also had a lot of use with the Steelers. In 2017 he had a league-high 406 touches. In that 2017 season, Bell’s yards per carry dropped almost a full yard, from 4.9 in 2016 to 4. That’s a bit troubling. Part of Bell’s decision to hold out last season had to be the concern about being given another 400 touches before he could hit free agency.

So Bell held out. That complicated his free-agency market. He hit the market at 27 years old, and the clock is always ticking on running backs. Teams mostly avoid big long-term deals on running backs, which is one reason the Steelers never gave into Bell’s demands.

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Le'Veon Bell through his career
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Le'Veon Bell through his career
ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 09: Le'Veon Bell #24 of the Michigan State Spartans scores on a 41 yard touchdown in the second quarter during the game aginst the Michigan Wolverines during the game on October 9, 2010 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 03: Le'Veon Bell #24 of the Michigan State Spartans runs the ball in the first half against the Wisconsin Badgers during the Big 10 Conference Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 24: Le'Veon Bell of Michigan State runs the 40-yard dash during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 24, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: Leveon Bell attends the 10th Annual ESPN The Magazine Pre-Draft Party at The IAC Building on April 24, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 10: Injured running back Le'Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the sideline during a preseason game against the New York Giants at Heinz Field on August 10, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Giants defeated the Steelers 18-13. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers is tackled by Kyle Wilson, New York Jets, during the New York Jets V Pittsburgh Steelers NFL regular season game at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ, USA. 13th October 2013. Photo Tim Clayton (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 22: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up before a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 22, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Steelers defeated the Packers 38-31. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 05: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs for yardage during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on October 5, 2014 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 30: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers rushes against the New Orleans Saints during the game on November 30, 2014 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 30: Ben Roethlisberger #7 hands the ball off to Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game against the New Orleans Saints at Heinz Field on November 30, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 14: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs off the field after the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on December 14, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 03: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches the game from the sideline in the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers during the preseason game at Heinz Field on September 3, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
October 25, 2015: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) during the NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 26: DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Le'Veon Bell #26 talk before a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 26, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 16: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on before a NFL game against the Miami Dolphins on October 16, 2016 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery/ Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 13: Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back Le'Veon Bell (26) stretches out to score a touchdown during the NFL Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 13, 2016, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The Cowboys defeated the Steelers with a final score of 35-30. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 04: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up before a game against the New York Giants on December 4, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 25: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) looks on after a NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens on December 25, 2016 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The Steelers went on to win 31-27, advancing to the playoffs as the AFC's No. 3 seed. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 25: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) runs out to the field after being introduced during a NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens on December 25, 2016 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The Steelers went on to win 31-27, advancing to the playoffs as the AFC's No. 3 seed. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15: Running back Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tosses the ball forward after gaining a first down against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 10, 2017: Running back LeVeon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers laughs as he plays catch with fans prior to a game on September 10, 2017 against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Pittsburgh won 21-18. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 24: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears won 23-17 in overtime. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 01: Running back Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball against the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, October 29, 2017. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 12: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) watches a video replay during the NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts on November 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 10: Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back Le'Veon Bell (26) walks in before the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 10, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 10: Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back Le'Veon Bell (26) looks on during the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 10, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) runs with the ball during the AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers on January 14, 2018 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half of the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field on January 14, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 28: Runningback Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the AFC Team as he arrives to the NFL Pro Bowl Game at Camping World Stadium on January 28, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
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Bell should have some prime years left

Bell hasn’t played in a year, but we all remember his all-around skill set. Bell is good between the tackles, has the speed to break long runs, is good near the goal line and is an outstanding receiver out of the backfield. One reason the Steelers kept him on the field nearly the entire time was that they didn’t have to take him out. He can do it all.

Even though backs get riskier the longer they play, Bell is a fantastic talent and should be a good investment. Players like him don’t hit free agency too often, and he’s not exactly an old man at age 27.

One of the stories that dragged on all last season was Bell and his holdout. Now there’s a more interesting storyline: How Bell plays in his new NFL home, with the contract he was looking for.

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