Le'Veon Bell Rumors: Jets Showing 'Little Interest'; Will Target 2nd-Tier RBs

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2019

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 12:  Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the ball against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The New York Jets are on track to have more salary-cap space than almost any other team, but they may not use that money to sign free-agent running back Le'Veon Bell.

Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com reported Sunday the Jets are instead looking at "second-tier running backs" and "showing little interest" in Bell.

According to Over the Cap, the Jets have a little over $102.1 million in cap space, an amount only surpassed by the Indianapolis Colts ($106.4 million).

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported in November that Bell is looking to get $17 million annually and $45 million guaranteed from his next contract this offseason. New York could theoretically meet Bell's demands and still have a lot of money to spend.

But the Jets may have changed their approach to free agency after how this past year unfolded.

Kirk Cousins turned down $90 million from the Jets to sign a three-year, $84 million fully guaranteed deal with the Minnesota Vikings. After the Vikings missed the playoffs, failing to sign Cousins might have been a blessing in disguise.

Bell turned 27 in February, and he had the second-most touches (1,541) of any player between 2013 and 2017, per Pro Football Reference. He also saw his yards per carry fall from 4.9 in 2015 and 2016 to 4.0 in 2017.

The team that signs Bell may not be getting the running back who reached three Pro Bowls and earned first-team All-Pro honors twice in his first five seasons.

The Jets were 26th in rushing offense, averaging 101.4 yards per game in 2018. While New York needs to address its running game, bowing out of the Bell sweepstakes may not be a bad move.