Le'Veon Bell, the superstar running back who sat out last season in a salary dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers, has agreed to a free-agent deal with the New York Jets.
Bell, 27, is considered one of the most versatile offensive players in the NFL. After ESPN broke the news early Wednesday that he had come to terms with the Jets, Bell confirmed it on Twitter and Instagram.
ESPN reported that the deal is for four years and $52.5 million, with $35 million guaranteed.
Bell's anticipated average salary of $13.25 million would make him the league's second-highest-paid running back, behind Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams. But that could be a bargain with Bell. Other than the question marks created by a year away from the game, he represents a dramatic upgrade for the Jets, a team that ranked 26th in the NFL in rushing last year.
Selected by Pittsburgh with the 48th pick of the 2013 draft, Bell had a solid rookie campaign before exploding in 2014 with 2,215 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns. While his time on the field has been limited somewhat by drug and substance abuse suspensions -- along with his full-season holdout -- he has 7,996 yards from scrimmage in 62 career games.
With the Jets he will be the centerpiece of an offense designed by the team's new coach, Adam Gase, the mastermind of a Denver Broncos offense that averaged 37.9 points a game with Peyton Manning in 2013. (Under Gase, the Miami Dolphins finished in the bottom half of the league in scoring the past three seasons.)
Bell will serve as the Jets' top running back, but he also will be one of their most talented receivers. That will help take some of the burden off quarterback Sam Darnold, who is still developing after being selected with the No. 3 overall pick last year. In Darnold's uneven rookie season, the Jets had a running back surpass 100 rushing yards in a game only two times.
Thomas, Ingram agree
BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens finally made their move during the NFL's free agent frenzy, securing safety Earl Thomas and running back Mark Ingram on Wednesday.
Thomas accepted a four-year deal and Ingram agreed to terms on a three-year contract. In addition, the Ravens formally announced the trade of quarterback Joe Flacco to Denver for a fourth-round draft pick.
Thomas, 29, arrives after a nine-year run with Seattle. He is expected to replace free safety Eric Weddle, who played three seasons in Baltimore before being released last week.
Despite having his 2018 season end with a broken left leg, Thomas finished with three interceptions. No one on the Ravens had more than two last year.
Thomas has 28 career interceptions, 11 forced fumbles and had at least 88 tackles in four different seasons.
Ingram, 29, scored 50 touchdowns during eight years with the New Orleans Saints. Arriving with 106 games of experience, including 64 starts, Ingram provides stability to a Baltimore backfield that last year counted heavily on rookie Gus Edwards.
Ingram has 204 receptions over the past five seasons and should fit well into a controlled offense directed by quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Williams deal 'close'
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Raiders' pursuit of help for quarterback Derek Carr didn't stop with Trent Brown and Antonio Brown.
Wide receiver Tyrell Williams, one of the top wide receivers in free agency, has agreed to terms with the Raiders, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The deal is "close to being done," according to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who said the two sides are still negotiating but the Raiders expect to get it done.
Williams, 27, would become the fourth major piece added to the Raiders and the third on offense, with the club trading for wide receiver Antonio Brown, agreeing to terms with tackle Trent Brown, and also reportedly bringing aboard safety LaMarcus Joyner.
WASHINGTON -- Running back Adrian Peterson, who revived his career by running for 1,042 yards last season, agreed on a contract to return to the Washington Redskins on Wednesday. A person familiar with the deal, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it will be for two years and $8 million.
Peterson, 33, was a desperation signing by Washington late last August after injuries left the team precariously thin at running back. Unwanted by other teams, he dazzled coaches and executives with a tryout that is still legend around the franchise and then proceeded to be the Redskins' most productive offensive player, rushing for at least 96 yards in seven games.
CLEVELAND -- A person familiar with the deal said the Cleveland Browns and free agent tight end Demetrius Harris (Jacksonville) have agreed to a two-year contract.
Harris, who backed up Pro Bowler Travis Kelce in Kansas City, was added to the roster when the NFL free agency signing period began Wednesday afternoon, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the deal had not yet been announced.
In Cleveland, Harris will be reunited with Browns General Manager John Dorsey, who signed him in 2013 with the Chiefs.
Harris, 27, didn't play football in college and began his pro career on the practice squad.
Harris has 57 career catches for 605 yards in four seasons. He had 13 receptions for 164 yards and 3 touchdowns last season.
The Browns had an opening at tight end after releasing Darren Fells on Monday.
Fleming, Olawale deal
The Dallas Cowboys are keeping offensive tackle Cameron Fleming and fullback Jamize Olawale, agreeing to terms Wednesday on new deals with the unrestricted free agents.
Fleming, the primary backup for starting offensive tackles Tyron Smith and La'el Collins, agreed to a two-year deal. Fleming spent the first four seasons of his NFL career with the New England Patriots before signing a one-year deal with the Cowboys last season.
Olawale is getting a one-year deal. Primarily a lead blocker, he played in all 16 games last season after being acquired in a trade from the Oakland Raiders. He also led the team with 13 special teams tackles.
The Cowboys on Monday signed tight end Codey McElroy to a reserves-futures contract.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots aren't ready to give up on the possibility of Josh Gordon playing football again in New England.
The team extended qualifying offers to the restricted free agent receiver as well as to defensive back Jonathan Jones on Wednesday.
They placed second-round tenders on both, meaning any team that signed them would have to send New England back second-round draft picks as compensation.
Gordon could rejoin New England only if he's reinstated from his latest suspension for violating an agreement that allowed him to play after multiple drug suspensions. Gordon returned to the reserve/commissioner suspended list indefinitely in December for breaking the terms of his reinstatement under the NFL substance abuse policy. He has been suspended several times by the NFL for violations of its drug policies since being drafted by the Browns in 2012. He missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Gordon's outlook improved with New England last season, where he landed in September in a trade after the Browns felt it was time to cut ties with him. He had 40 receptions for 720 yards and three touchdowns with the Patriots, five years removed from an All-Pro season in 2013 with 87 catches for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns.
Free agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater met with the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday to discuss a possible offer to play for his hometown team.
A contract agreement would pave the way for the anticipated departure of Ryan Tannehill, who has been with the Dolphins since 2012.
Bridgewater, a Miami native, was the backup last season to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, and they're hoping to re-sign him. But a deal with the Dolphins would give him a chance to start as they rebuild under new Coach Brian Flores.
Bridgewater was a first-round draft pick by the Minnesota Vikings in 2014. He went 17-11 as a starter in his first two NFL seasons but has started only one game since suffering a serious knee injury in August 2016.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco agreed to a two-year deal with running back Tevin Coleman to add depth in the backfield, according to a person familiar with the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal hadn't been announced. ESPN reported the deal would be worth $10 million.
Coleman will be reunited with Coach Kyle Shanahan, who was his offensive coordinator his first two seasons in Atlanta in 2015-16. Coleman rushed for 800 yards last season at an average of 4.8 per carry and also had 32 catches for 276 yards and scored 9 TDs overall.
He will team in the backfield with Jerick McKinnon, who is coming off an ACL injury that cost him the entire 2018 season after being acquired last March. San Francisco also has Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert as reserves.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chiefs have released veteran safety Eric Berry in the latest move to completely overhaul their woeful defense.
Berry, a 30-year-old former Pro Bowler and nine-year NFL veteran, all with the Chiefs, played sparingly the last two seasons while trying to recover from various injuries.
The decision to release him is part of a massive restructuring under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The Chiefs this week signed free safety Tyrann Mathieu to a reported three-year, $42 million free-agent deal and released linebacker Justin Houston and traded linebacker Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft.
All three marquee players -- Berry, Houston and Ford -- carried high-dollar contracts. The team reaps savings of varying degrees by cutting ties with them.
With Berry's departure, the Chiefs' 2019 safety unit will likely include Armani Watts, Eric Murray, Mathieu and Jordan Lucas.
Sports on 03/14/2019
Print Headline: Bell agrees to deal after sitting out '18