Adam Gase apparently didn’t want Le’Veon Bell, so is there a way for the Jets to cut Bell loose early?
After Le’Veon Bell sat out the entire 2018 season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, there was certainly some risk in signing him. But the New York Jets took the plunge, signing Bell to a four-year, $52.5 million deal with an $8 million signing bonus and $27 million total guaranteed.
After reports of conflict between he and head coach Adam Gase, Mike Maccagnan was fired as Jets general manager Wednesday morning. Gase was then made interim GM, as the search for a permanent replacement gets going.
According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Gase “absolutely did not want to sign Bell” this offseason. The wisdom of spending big money on a running back nearing the end of his prime can be debated on a case-by-case basis, and Bell’s huge workload in 2017 (a league-high 321 carries; 85 catches-106 targets) is worth remembering.
Spending that money on Bell apparently put Gase in one corner, against Maccagnan and Jets’ CEO Christopher Johnson.
Gase has instantly taken on greater power in the Jets’ organization, with the immediately rumored candidate to replace Maccagnan someone he is supposedly close to (Eagles VP of Player Personnel Joe Douglas).
So what Gase wants he will probably get, and he didn’t want Bell right off the bat. According to a league source, Gase was also not a fan of the Ndamukong Suh signing during his time as Miami Dolphins’ head coach. Suh was cut by Miami after the 2017 season, as Gase had control over the roster.
Production level aside, or certainly if there’s a production drop, let’s say Gase wants to cut Bell after one or two seasons. Could it be done? What are the cap implications?
Via Spotrac, if the Jets cut Bell now or next year before June 1 they would take on $25 million and $17 million in dead cap respectively. Over The Cap.com’s numbers are slightly different, at $27 million in dead cap this year and $17 million in dead cap in 2020. But the two sites agree after that.
After the 2020 season the majority of Bell’s fully guaranteed money will be paid, via prorated signing bonus ($4 million), base salaries ($10.5 million) and roster bonuses ($9.5 million). His $8 million base salary for 2021 becomes guaranteed on March 17 that year. The dead cap hit for cutting him is $4 million in 2021, and $2 million in 2022, with the ability to clear $9.5 million (2021) and $13 million (2022) in cap space (via Over The Cap).
If Gase wants to cut Bell, he can do so halfway through the contract with minimal dead cap implications and the ability to clear significant space. But he’ll have to have him for two years, perhaps against his will, but also probably for the two best years Bell has left in his career. As parting gifts go, even if he didn’t expect to be fired so soon, Maccagnan didn’t hamper Gase too much with Bell’s contract.