Sources: Bell $8M injury guarantee key to release

  • ESPN NFL Insider
  • Joined ESPN in 2009
  • Former president of the Pro Football Writers of America and the author of four books

One significant reason behind the New York Jets’ decision to release Le’Veon Bell this past week was the $8 million injury guarantee in the running back’s contract for 2021, league sources told ESPN.

Had Bell suffered a long-term injury, the Jets likely would have been on the hook for an additional $8 million in 2021, when they wanted to cut their already pricey losses.

So rather than keeping Bell on their roster up until the Nov. 3 trade deadline, when the Jets might have been able to recoup a late-round draft pick for the disgruntled former Pro Bowler, they opted to release him this past Tuesday.

League sources believe that any type of injury to Bell could have led to a prolonged dispute between him and the Jets over the $8 million injury guarantee. Bell already has found a new home in Kansas City with the Chiefs, who added him on a one-year contract Thursday.

Bell, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, was a disappointment since signing a four-year, $52.5 million contract last year with the Jets, averaging only 3.3 yards per carry — 51st out of 53 qualifying runners in the NFL during that span.

The Jets are responsible for the remaining $6 million on Bell’s 2020 base pay, but there is an offset clause that will defray it by the amount of the salary on his new contract with the Chiefs. Bell will have a $1 million base salary along with up to $1 million in playing time and playoff incentives, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The base salary will be prorated for the five games Bell was not on the Chiefs, meaning he will make around $690,000.

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