As the 2019 draft gets closer, the New York Jets and new Head Coach Adam Gase have a lot of holes to fill after yet another disappointing season. The Jets and its fans have suffered through three seasons in a row with 11 or more losses. By all indications, it’s time to raise the team’s talent level in order to get back into the playoffs.
The goal is to build a team that is relevant in the NFL. Over the past few years, the Jets have created challenges for fans and sports bettor alike.
The team’s actual needs are all over the field. At the skill positions, they need some speed and depth at wide receiver. In the backfield, they need a running back that is durable and can move the ball in big chunks to help take the pressure off 2nd year QB Sam Darnold. An offensive and defensive lineman is also sitting at the top of the team’s Wishlist.
This year’s draft is rich with quality linemen and wide receivers. It’s a good bet the Jets are going to address those needs in the draft. According to recent rumors, they may have an opportunity to fill the team’s need at running back from the free agent pool by going after former Pittsburgh Steelers’ RB Le’Veon Bell or former Atlanta Falcons’ Tevin Coleman.
Bell enters free agency as the top offensive player on the board. He is strong, has good hands and runs North/South like a Mack truck. The numbers are there. In 2016 & 2017 combined, he rushed for 2,559 yards and 16 touchdowns while also catching 160 passes for 1,271 yards and another 4 touchdowns. What makes these numbers all the more impressive is the fact he only played 27 games.
Therein also lies the problem. While he might be a great back, he comes with plenty of luggage. In six NFL seasons with the Steelers, he has played 16 games only once. That includes missing four games in 2016 due to suspension and sitting out all of last season over a dispute with team management. These are not transgressions that should be taken lightly when adding an All-Pro veteran to a team of young players. Right now, the Jets have the cap room to sign him and all indications are he is very interested.
With all that said, there may be a better option in Coleman. First, he’s two years younger and can probably be signed for half the money it’s going to take to sign Bell. He hasn’t yet completed a full year as a starting back in the NFL, but he did start 14 games last year (played in all 16) with respectable numbers. He too has good speed and is a very capable pass receiver. Last year, he averaged 4.8 YPC with four TDs over 167 carries on the ground and caught 32 passes for another 5 TDs. If given the opportunity to be a feature back, he might have some very interesting upside.
There’s little doubt Bell has the goods. However, the price tag creates a lot of risk as the LA Rams are learning with RB Todd Gurley II. Indeed, Bell would be the sexy choice, but discretion is warranted.