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Le'Veon Bell To Sign With New York Jets
As ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported, former Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell has a new home with the New York Jets.

The two sides have agreed to a deal will pay Bell $52.5 million over four years, with multiple outlets -- and Bell himself via Twitter -- confirming Schefter's initial report. The deal has a maximum value of $61 million and includes $35 million guaranteed, per Schefter.

In case you've somehow missed it, Bell held out the entirety of the 2018 season to avoid playing on the franchise tag with the Steelers. The Steelers declined to place the tag on Bell again for 2019 and allowed him to reach free agency.

The two-time All-Pro running back, after gaining nearly 2,000 total yards during the 2017 season, 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.

As's Curtis Crabtree noted, Bell may never recoup that $14.5 million he left on the table, but he now has the long-term contract he was searching for with the Jets.

And the Jets have a hell of a running back -- assuming he's the same Bell we saw prior to 2018.

Bell's average of 128.9 total yards per game from 2013 to 2017 is the highest for an NFL back over the first five seasons of a career since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. During that span, he rushed for 5,336 yards and 35 touchdowns while catching 312 passes for 2,660 yards and another seven scores.

But it's fair to wonder if he's still that guy.

Bell has been training in South Florida and his trainer, Pete Bommarito of Bommarito Performance Systems in Miami, responded to "ridiculous" speculation about the soon-to-be free agent's shape, pointing out the running back was feeling better in February than guys who played last season.

"He's going to be the same Le'Veon Bell -- only better, quicker and faster."

Bommarito's comments came a day after New York Daily News staffer Manish Mehta advised his readers that the Jets have concerns about the Bell's shape after the year off. "Word on the street is that Bell, who's playing weight is about 225 pounds, ballooned to around 260 pounds at one point during his year-long hiatus," wrote Mehta.

Bommarito was quick to dispute that. "It's so untrue it's laughable and ridiculous," the trainer said, via FanSided. "He has stuck to the plan and stayed in shape all year. It's ridiculous. Where does this stuff come from? Who says this? Nobody asked me."

In the end, any concern went by the wayside.

The Jets seemed to be the obvious landing spot here although others were interested with various reports pointing to the Bills, Chiefs, Eagles, Colts, Ravens, Packers, Texans and Raiders all suggested as potential suitors in recent weeks.

But the Jets, with copious cap space, a promising young quarterback on his rookie contract and a new head coach, had the wherewithal and desire necessary to get it done.

The deal gives new coach Adam Gase and second-year signal caller Sam Darnold a big-time playmaker, arguably the best player at his position prior to sitting out. Expecting him to continue being among the most versatile and dangerous offensive players in the NFL isn't a reach.

Remember, the Jets acquired high-end guard Kelechi Osemele from the Raiders earlier in the week to help in the blocking department. They also added Jamison Crowder to go along with a young receiving corps featuring Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa and tight end Chris Herndon.

The pieces are all in place. And they now include Bell.

One last note here. ... The Steelers, who found success in the backfield last season with Pro Bowl selection James Conner and backup Jaylen Samuels, will receive a 2020 compensatory pick for losing Bell that could be worth as high as a third-round selection.