Source: Bell plans to join Jets for 4 years, $52.5 million

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Bell, who shocked the NFL by sitting out the entire 2018 season on the franchise tag after failing to agree on a new contract last summer, officially became a free agent when Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert opted not to place a franchise or transition tag on him for the 2019 season.

After gaining nearly 2,000 total yards during the 2017 season, Bell opted to eschew the $14.5 million franchise tag in 2018 — forgoing about $855,000 per game — so he could preserve his long-term viability for a big contract in free agency this offseason.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Several other teams were said to be interested in Bell, including the San Francisco 49ers, who made a strong offer and were engaged in a wild tug-of-war with the Jets over the past few hours, sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

But the Jets emerged as the front-runner late Tuesday. Not wanting to bid against themselves, they held firm on their offer, a source told ESPN’s Rich Cimini.11

Bell, a two-time All-Pro, had used social media to engage with potential suitors, using emojis to make indirect contact with the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens, among others. The Ravens never made him an offer, a source told Schefter.

Bell’s average salary per year with the Jets, $13.25 million, would rank him second among running backs in the NFL, behind Todd Gurley’s $14.37 million average.

In finishing 4-12 last season, which resulted in coach Todd Bowles’ ouster, the Jets produced only two 100-yard rushing days, both by Isaiah Crowell. Crowell set the franchise single-game record with 219 yards in an October home game against the Denver Broncos but disappeared for the remainder of the season.

Crowell is likely to be released before Friday, when $2 million of his $4 million base salary becomes guaranteed. The backfield will consist of Bell, Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

The Jets haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since Chris Ivory in 2015. They haven’t had a runner with Bell’s skill set since Curtis Martin, a big free-agent signing from 1998 to 2005. Bell has said that Martin, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, was his idol as a kid.