Five 2019 Free Agent Running Backs the Jets Should Target Instead of Le'Veon Bell

Five 2019 Free Agent Running Backs the Jets Should Target Instead of Le'Veon Bell

NFL

Five 2019 Free Agent Running Backs the Jets Should Target Instead of Le'Veon Bell

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There’s one more game left in the Jets season, and the offseason plan is already in full swing. Yes, they’ve got to fire Todd Bowles. (We’ve discussed replacement ideas.) And yes, their GM, Mike Maccagnan, could (should?) lose his job.

Before the season finale against the Patriots, the Jets are 3rd in the NFL draft order, which makes it appear they were one of the worst teams in the league. In reality, the Jets have their franchise QB, and have been playing significantly better with Sam Darnold after his return from injury. How can you quantify this? The Football Outsiders measured teams via DVOA from Week 11-Week 16. The Jets have ranked 17th during that time, ahead of higher-quality teams like Houston (18), Green Bay (20), Philadelphia (21), Pittsburgh (23), Tennessee (24) and Carolina (29).

The first offseason position situation we need to address is running back. Bilal Powell suffered a terrible neck injury and his career could be over. He’s a free agent and as of now, there’s no scenario for him to return. Isaiah Crowell, their leading rusher (685 yards) is also on IR with a toe injury. Crowell signed a 3-year deal last offseason, but money-wise, it was really a 1-year deal. They’d be wise to bring him back to split the #1 role or be a valuable #2 RB.

The most popular name at the position on the market is obviously Le'Veon Bell. He’ll demand top dollar, and likely will get it. He turns 27 in February and there are several ways to look at him: 1) The Steelers lose Bell, they still put up good offensive numbers, but miss the playoffs (barring major help in Week 17); 2) Bell’s attitude stinks, and who wants to infect a young franchise with that me-first mentality; 3) Who cares about his injuries or his attitude, the guy is a Top 5 running back and the Jets need weapons!

Before we go further, these NFL rushing stats for 2018 are worth mentioning:

5th in rushing: Joe Mixon (2nd round draft pick)
6th in rushing: Adrian Peterson (33, signed by Redskins in free agency)
7th in rushing: Phillip Lindsay (undrafted free agent)
8th in rushing: Chris Carson (7th round draft pick)
9th in rushing: Nick Chubb (2nd round draft pick)
10th in rushing: Derrick Henry (2nd round draft pick)

Here are four running backs the Jets should pursue ahead of Le’Veon Bell. The Jets would be better served using their cap space on the offensive line, edge rusher, and pulling a Brock Osweiler.

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