The Jets announced last night that they will release Le'Veon Bell. Which means, contrary to many accounts of the situation, that they haven’t released him yet.
The smarter move would be to keep him, at least for the next two weeks and six days.
Although the Jets currently have no trade market for Bell, that could change in an instant. Running backs get injured all the time. If a starter with a contender suffers a multi-week or season-ending injury in Week Six, Week Seven, or Week Eight, a market for Bell instantly could emerge.
The Jets will be paying Bell whether he’s on the team or not. While he may not like it, especially since it’s financially better for him to be cut and to have a chance to double-dip with a new team (the balance of his salary could be collected as termination pay), Bell would have to live with it, if the Jets tell him that’s the way it’s going to be.
While the Jets can’t send him home with pay, they’re not compelled to activate him, and they’re not required to give him practice reps that would risk an injury. Even if they’ve had enough of Bell, patience could do for them the same thing it did for the Bengals in 2011, when a broken collarbone for Jason Campbell in the last game before the deadline opened the door for a Carson Palmer trade to the Raiders.
The fact that the Jets have announced an intention to cut Bell now shows that the relationship has deteriorated to the point at which the team doesn’t care about the possibility of trading Bell between now and November 3. With the team’s bye now moved from Week 11 to Week 10, the Jets have four more chances (at Dolphins, Bills, at Chiefs, Patriots) to avoid taking a winless record into the prime spot for firing a coach during the season.
From the perspective of coach Adam Gase, it makes more sense to clear out a headache than to hope that the Jets will be able to get some sort of late-round compensation for a player former G.M. Mike Maccagnan never should have signed.