Earlier this week, the Jets signed free agent running back Kahlil Bell. Jets fans might not know too much about Bell, so I’ve been looking at game footage in detail to investigate what he could bring to the table.

Bell spent his first three years in the NFL with the Bears before being waived in August. Chicago re-signed him temporarily early in the season but didn't make much of an impact and was released four weeks later. He hasn't played for any other NFL teams, although he did attend Vikings camp as a rookie. With both Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight injured and recent practice squad addition John Griffin presumably still familiarizing himself with the playbook, the Jets needed a healthy tailback to back up Shonn Greene.

After the jump, I look in detail at footage from Bell's time in the league to evaluate some of his strengths and weaknesses.

Who is Kahlil Bell?

Bell had a pretty good college career at UCLA and was at one time projected to be a future mid-round pick, but a torn ACL in 2007 took its toll and he went undrafted in 2009 having run just a 4.74 forty at the combine and failing to improve on that at his Pro Day.

After failing to make the Vikings roster, Bell got a spot on the Bears practice squad in his rookie year and was activated late in the season following an injury to Garrett Wolfe. His impact was immediate, as he rushed for an NFL record 72-yard gain on his first NFL carry. That play, which can be seen here gives an indication of his burst, but also perhaps a lack of breakaway speed in the open field. Bell would finish the season with 220 yards at an average of 5.5 yards per carry, although after that initial big gain, he would only average 3.8 yards per carry.

In 2010, he didn't play although he remained on the Bears active roster all season. It doesn't appear that he was injured, other than a minor injury in preseason which may have contributed to him falling behind the special teams demon Wolfe on the depth chart again. The only time he made any headlines was when he got into a fight with teammate Chester Taylor in practice in December.

A solid preseason in 2011 saw him regain his spot, although he then suffered an ankle injury in the preseason finale and he underwhelmed in the first two games, carrying 11 times for 23 yards, although he did have two big plays negated by penalties. Thereafter, he would only play on special teams until late in the season when Matt Forte was injured. However the last five games of the year saw his most promising stretch as an NFL player, as he averaged 4.6 yards per carry, had at least one run of 13 yards or more in each of the five games and recorded 19 of his 21 career receptions. His most outstanding performance saw him rush for 121 yards and catch four passes for 38 yards against the Packers. He also scored his first NFL touchdown on a 25-yard catch against Seattle.

In 2012, he was originally given a one year contract for $1.26m but when he found himself third on the depth chart in August, the Bears asked him to take a paycut (to $700,000) and he refused so they waived him. His return this September saw him carry the ball 10 times for 20 yards in an uninspiring return to the lineup and the following week he carried the ball just twice and false started once in four snaps as a back up.

The Numbers

Four seasons

22 games

Three starts, all in 2011

131 carries, 589 yards, no touchdowns (4.5 ypc)

21 catches, 148 yards, one touchdown

81% catch rate, one drop (in 2009)

Three fumbles, one as a receiver, one lost

17 broken tackles, including four as a receiver

Two kick returns for 45 yards (25 longest)

Seven special teams tackles, one missed tackle

Two special teams penalties

One offensive penalty committed

Five 20+ yard plays (one as a receiver)

One 40+ yard play

Observations

Based on all the regular season footage I watched, here was my take on what Bell brings to the table, divided into categories:

Usage - Bell was used almost exclusively as a classic tailback. He motioned out wide or into the slot on occasion, as any other running back would, but rarely ever more than a couple of times per game. With the Bears not really a team that has a third down specialist (since Forte is a three-down back), he received plenty of reps on passing downs in those games where he started or got plenty of playing time. While the Bears did use some zone blocking last year, their scheme is a lot more similar to the Jets' system than Houston's is, so it hopefully won't take Bell as long to adjust to the scheme as it apparently did for Jonathan Grimes. In fact, the Bears run a lot of the plays that the Jets have been running this year under Sparano and Bell had some good moments on those plays.

One way he wasn't used much was in a short yardage role. He only had four carries on 3rd or 4th and three or less and was stuffed on two of these. He has also failed to rush for a touchdown despite getting a handful of carries inside the five yard line.

Running Ability - While Bell's yards-per-carry average is skewed slightly by that huge gain on his first ever carry, it is worth noting that he did have that spell of games in 2011 where he was consistently averaging comfortably better than four yards per carry. Having said that, his numbers have been underwhelming so far this year, he gained 18 on one play and another 10 on a 3rd and 19 draw play, but other than that he racked up just four yards on his other 10 carries for an average of less than three.

Bell is a patient runner with pretty good vision. Most of his best runs saw him following his blocker and then making a decisive and well-timed cut and he doesn't dance about, doing a good job of getting his momentum going upfield and identifying and hitting cutback lanes. While he lacks that breakaway speed he does have a good initial burst and hits the hole hard, enabling him to get to the second level on occasion. He also has some slipperyness to his game, which enables him to avoid or break tackles. Bell was listed at 212 as a rookie, but bulked up to over 220 with the Bears. There were a few good examples of him running over defensive backs at the second level or driving the pile for a few extra yardage, so he does have power.

In his first season, he averaged a disappointing 2.1 yards per carry after contact according to PFF, but in 2011 he averaged an above-average 2.6 yards per carry after contact, helped by his performance over the last two games where he broke 10 tackles.

Pass Protection - Bell has stayed in to pass block on 67 plays in his NFL career and has given up one sack and three pressures. While he does make a good attempt to get in front of the pass rusher and anchor himself, this can sometimes mean he is prone to the pass rusher making a quick move to get around him. On the sack he gave up, that's what happened as Chad Greenway came on a delayed blitz, although it only resulted in a sack because of pressure from the outside causing the quarterback to step up. On each of the pressures he gave up, he at least got enough of the man to prevent the sack, so he was never really beaten cleanly. One of these was a big completion and one enabled the quarterback to get to the outside on a scramble, but the other forced a throw away on third down. He should hopefully be able to do at least an adequate job if called upon to do this with the Jets.

Receiving Threat - Bell showed some ability to be a pass-catching threat out of the backfield in the last four games of 2011 as he caught at least four passes in each game, including a 25-yard touchdown against Seattle. Most of the receptions he made were dumpoffs or checkdowns although he did turn some of these into decent gains by making yardage after the catch. The only exceptions were the touchdown against Seattle (where he ran downfield and then across the field easily beating the linebacker and making a catch near the pylon) and two others where he ran quick slants (once after having motioned out wide).

Hands - He did drop a pass as a rookie but hasn't done since. That was on the play before his big 72-yard run and wasn't entirely his fault as he lined up outside and the quarterback threw behind him to the outside with a defensive back hitting him as the ball arrived to jar it loose. Since most of his catches were checkdowns and dumpoffs, he didn't really show much in the way of spectacular catches but he seemed to catch the simpler ones cleanly enough.

One major concern would be fumbles, as he had three of those in the last two games of 2011 and clearly wasn't protecting the ball too well on any of them. As it turned out, the Bears recovered two of them anyway, including one in the end zone for a score, but he did lose a bad one inside his own 20.

Special Teams - With five solo tackles and two penalties to his name on special teams, Bell is not renowned as much of a contributor on that unit. In fact, that's the main reason he fell behind Garrett Wolfe on the depth chart. Wolfe is an outstanding gunner, so there were no doubt games where Bell was inactive due to Wolfe being needed in that role. However, Bell didn't do a bad job of getting downfield and making tackles as a punt protector. The Jets obviously have that position locked down for the foreseeable future though!

Attitude - There wasn't much to see on the film in respect of chippyness, blown assignments or demonstrative behavior from Bell, although he does have a few off-field concerns. Other than the fight with Taylor mentioned above (which was said to have been "brewing for some time"), he was also suspended in college for two games, reportedly for "being a bad teammate". Also, you may or may not think the fact he refused to take a paycut and lost his job as a result is a bad sign. Despite these concerns, Bell seemed to play extremely hard and gave an insight into his drive and ambition last year:

It was never my goal to be on a practice squad or be a third-string running back. But good things come to those who wait.


Conclusions

Any move you make at this stage of the season, especially when it looks like you're already out of contention, is likely to be a low risk move. It's certainly true that there have been examples of running backs being signed off the street at this point in a season and going on to contribute and find a home.

Less than a year ago, people were writing about what a Bell's bright NFL future, so maybe the Bears gave up on him too soon. In fact, with the Jets' running backs having struggled for most of the season, it might not take much for Bell to provide them with an upgrade.

Based on what I saw, Bell has the ability to execute some of the plays that Shonn Greene has been struggling with over the first part of the season. However, his performance this season shows that if the run blocking ahead of him isn't good, he's no more likely to produce that Greene is. It would make a lot of sense for the Jets to give Bell every chance to show that he can be a keeper. This might also motivate Greene too, so hopefully the Jets will benefit one way or another.
Tags: BGA, Editorial Aside, Bent Double

 (Eric Hartline)
(Eric Hartline)

The Jets' new linebackers coach, Hall of Famer Kevin Greene, is looking to instill more aggression and power in his players, especially LB Lorenzo Mauldin.

The 25-year-old has shown spurts of potential in two seasons with the Jets, but his 2.5 sacks last season isn't the production they had expected. Greene intends to change that, and he told NJ.com's Darryl Slater why he uses this specific approach to his coaching. 

"Everybody at this level has skill, correct?" Greene said. "They'rea ll athletic, and agility and dexterity and all that stuff. Well, what separates people initially is their physical level of play. That's always our first step, is we have to play more physical than whoever is in front of us, because we're all athletic." 

Tags: Lorenzo Mauldin
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A pass intended for New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson is broken up by Buffalo Bills cornerbacks Corey White and Kevon Seymour during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
A pass intended for New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson is broken up by Buffalo Bills cornerbacks Corey White and Kevon Seymour during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Projected starters: Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson

Projected backups: Jalin Marshall, Charone Peake, ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Charone Peake, Eric Decker, Jalin Marshall, Quincy Enunwa
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New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) watches from the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) watches from the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Preseason Stats: 17-for-47, 159 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, 1-15 rushing, one fumble

Regular Season Stats: Did Not Play

Tags: Christian Hackenberg
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Part 2 of Jets mini-camp 00:02:01
SNY delivers part 2 of an all-access behind-the-scenes recap of New York Jets minicamp, including the sights and sounds from Florham Park.

SNY delivers an all-access behind the scenes recap of Jets minicamp, including all the sights and sounds from Florham Park.

Click here to watch Part 1

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Behind the scenes at Jets camp 00:01:48
SNY delivers an all-access behind the scenes recap of Jets minicamp, including all the sights and sounds from Florham Park.

SNY delivers an all-access behind the scenes recap of Jets minicamp, including all the sights and sounds from Florham Park.

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New York Jets owner Woody Johnson before the preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta)
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson before the preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta)

President Donald Trump plans to nominate Jets' owner Woody Johnson as the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, the team confirmed on Thursday.

In the case that Johnson is nominated and confirmed by the US Senate, he would hand over his duties as Chairman and CEO to his brother, Christopher Johnson, who will directly oversee the team's day-to-day operations.

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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Jets DE Sheldon Richardson says head coach Todd Bowles has been more strict than in the past, per Darryl Slater of NJ.com. 

Bowles has been left with a young team following the Jets' roster purge that including veterans like C Nick Mangold and LB David Harris. With his job possibly in jeopardy, he has been putting emphasis on working harder.

"It's completely different from the last couple years," Richardson said at minicamp. "A lot more strict now. We weren't loose [in the past], but it's a lot more strict now. It's even more enforced than what it has been in the past."

Tags: Brandon Marshall, David Harris, Muhammad Wilkerson, Nick Mangold, Sheldon Richardson
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 (Noah K. Murray)
(Noah K. Murray)

Jets LB Lorenzo Mauldin turned himself in to authorities Wednesday morning in Manhattan for his alleged role in a nightclub attack that took place on April 2, according to TMZ Sports.

Mauldin, who is also being sued in civil court, was not arrested or charged after the incident. The Jets said earlier this month that they're aware of the lawsuit but had no further comment.

An NFL spokesman told ESPN's Rich Cimini that the league is looking into the incident. 

Tags: Lorenzo Mauldin
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 (Timothy T. Ludwig)
(Timothy T. Ludwig)

Former Jets LB David Harris has agreed to a two-year deal with the New England Patriots worth $6.75 million, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

The Patriots offered Harris more than the Jets offered him earlier this month prior to his release, reports Mike Florio of NBC Sports.

Harris visited with the Patriots on Wednesday after speaking with head coach Bill Belichick (and coaches from five other teams) earlier this week, notes Florio.

Tags: David Harris
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Los Angeles Rams former and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene attends a NFL football game at between the Miami Dolphins and the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Kirby Lee)
Los Angeles Rams former and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene attends a NFL football game at between the Miami Dolphins and the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Kirby Lee)

The Jets were one of the worst pass-rushing teams in the NFL last year, finishing the season wtih just 27 sacks, and only 5.5 of them coming from the team's outside linebackers.

Todd Bowles brought in former NFL linebacker Kevin Greene as New York's new linebackers coach, and Greene has already expressed optimism towards his young group of players.

"The sky's the limit for all my kids," Greene told Daniel Popper of the Daily News. "I'm teaching my kids technique and fundamentals not based on athletic ability and skill. It's based on physicality. It's based on drive and desire and want-to and being a student of the game. ... All my kids can really be as good they want to be."

Tags: Darron Lee, Jordan Jenkins
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 (Mike Dinovo)
(Mike Dinovo)

The Jets have signed former Bears WR Marquess Wilson, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Wilson only played in three games last season as he was on the IR with a broken foot. He is a big target, standing at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, and will add some competition before training camp begins.

In four seasons with the Bears, Wilson played in 31 games, hauling in 56 receptions for 777 yards and 3 touchdowns. 

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 (Dennis Schneidler)
(Dennis Schneidler)

The Jets new running backs coach, Stump Mitchell, believes RB Bilal Powell has Pro Bowl ability, according to ESPN's Rich Cimini. 

Mitchell has been impressed with Powell since joining the Jets this season, and he thinks if he didn't have to share time with another back, he has would attain Pro Bowl status. 

"Bilal is a Pro Bowl back if he was playing by himself, make no doubt about that," Mitchell said at minicamp.

Tags: Bilal Powell
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Jacksonville Jaguars running back Chris Ivory is tackled by New York Jets outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins during the first quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Chris Ivory is tackled by New York Jets outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins during the first quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Projected Starters: Jordan Jenkins, Lorenzo Mauldin

Projected Backups: Dylan Donahue, Josh Martin

Tags: Deion Barnes, Jordan Jenkins, Lorenzo Mauldin, Mike Catapano, Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson
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GEICO SportsNite: Jets minicamp 00:02:24
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg and defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson break down Jets minicamp and their expectations for the season.

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg and Defensive Lineman Sheldon Richardson break down Jets minicamp and their expectations for the season.

Tags: Christian Hackenberg, Sheldon Richardson
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Former Jets LB Larry Grantham dies at age 78: Larry Grantham, a member of the Jets' only Super Bowl team in 1969, died on Tuesday at the age of 78. Apart from being a Super Bowl Champion, Grantham has been enshrined in the Jets Ring of Honor as well. 

Elsewhere in New York sports the Mets dropped a slugfest to the Dodgers, the Yankees lose their top prospect to injury, and the NBA draft is just two days away. 

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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

The Jets' roster purge and commitment to begin rebuilding this season earned them a "C+" offseason grade, per ESPN's Rich Cimini.

As the offseason is normally used to rebuild rosters, the Jets tore theirs down thanks to move made by owner Woody Johnson. Among the roster cuts were LB David Harris and WR Eric Decker, which saved the Jets almost $14 million in payroll alone. C Nick Mangold and CB Darrelle Revis were also part of the 11 veterans the Jets go rid of this offseason. 

Cimini said the grade should be worse considering the Jets now have one of the worst rosters in the NFL, but looking at the big picture, the Jets are acknowledging their rebuild and will have $80 million to work with next offseason.

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New York Jets running back Bilal Powell leaps over Miami Dolphins safety Isa Abdul-Quddus during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Jets running back Bilal Powell leaps over Miami Dolphins safety Isa Abdul-Quddus during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Projected Starter: Matt Forte

Projected Backups: Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire

Tags: Bilal Powell, Matt Forte
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GEICO SportsNite: Larry Grantham 00:00:26
Michelle Yu reports on the passing of former Jets linebacker Larry Grantham, a member of the Jets Ring of Honor, who was 78 years old.

The Jets announced former LB Larry Grantham, a Ring of Honor member and Super Bowl III champion, has died at age 78.

Grantham opted to join the AFL's New York Titans despite being drafted in the NFL by the Baltimore Colts in 1960. The Titans became the Jets in 1963, and Grantham would stay with them until his retirement in 1972. 

He was the starting linebacker for the Jets' Super Bowl III championship team where he called all the plays on defense. Grantham played in 175 career games, and was a five-time AFL All-Star and a five-time all-NFL selection. 

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GEICO SportsNite: Jets receivers 00:01:37
Jeane Coakley talks to Quincy Enunwa to discuss his expectations for himself and the young receivers for the upcoming season.

SNY's Jeane Coakley talks to Quincy Enunwa after the conclusion of Jets minicamp to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.

Tags: Quincy Enunwa
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Former Jets wide receiver signed a deal with the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.  (Bill Wippert/AP)
Former Jets wide receiver signed a deal with the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. (Bill Wippert/AP)

Former Jets wide receiver Eric Decker is now a Tennessee Titan after agreeing to a deal on Sunday. 

Elsewhere, Jacob deGrom homers, the Yankees drop their sixth straight, Bradley Wright-Phillips scores twice and the Rangers, Islanders and Devils announce their protected players list ahead of the NHL Expansion Draft. 

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Eric Decker (Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)
Eric Decker (Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)

Former Jets wide receiver Eric Decker agreed to a contract with the Tennessee Titans, the team announced Sunday.

Decker, 30, played 33 games with the Jets over the past three seasons, totaling 163 catches, 2,183 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns.

Decker had appeared healthy entering organized team activities in May after he missed 13 games last season due to rotator cuff and hip injuries.

New York released him last Monday when they were unable to find a trading partner. The Jets will face a $1.5 million cap hit this year and next after releasing Decker.

Tags: Eric Decker, Tennessee Titans
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 (Ed Mulholland)
(Ed Mulholland)

RB Matt Forte says the Jets aren't tanking the season, despite the fact that they've cut the majority of their veteran players this offseason.

"It's a good thing we don't operate off of what the fans think and what everybody on the outside thinks," Forte said, according to The Record. "What we think as a team, that's what's going to happen. And none of us on the team think that we're going to tank. So all I have to say about that is: Bring it."

The Jets, who went 5-11 last season, have cut Brandon MarshallEric DeckerDavid HarrisDarrelle RevisNick MangoldNick Folk, and Breno Giacomini since the season ended. They also declined their option on Ryan Clady.

Tags: Matt Forte
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 (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)
(Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - It's really quite an accomplishment for the Jets to come off a disappointing and perhaps disastrous 5-11 season and find a way to get worse. But they did it. They purged their roster of most of their veterans and replaced them with untested, unknown players. They're playing the long game, even though their short term looks rather bleak.

Who knows if they're "tanking" with their eyes on a top draft pick next season? Maybe they're just acknowledging the need to experience short-term pain for long-term gain. Whatever it is, there isn't a lot of hope for the 2017 season. Their eyes are on 2018, or perhaps beyond.

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Rookie Marcus Maye on minicamp 00:01:51
SNY's Jeane Coakley chats with Jets rookie safety Marcus Maye about his first minicamp in the NFL.

SNY's Jeane Coakley chats with Jets rookie safety Marcus Maye about his first minicamp in the NFL.

The Jets selected Maye in the second round of Apri's NFL Draft.

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Jets quarterbacks practice during minicamp on Wednesday. (Julio Cortez/AP)
Jets quarterbacks practice during minicamp on Wednesday. (Julio Cortez/AP)

Jets coach Todd Bowles said Thursday there is no frontrunner for the srarting quarterback job. 

Elsewhere, the Yankees lose in extra innings, Juan Lagares is injurede in a Mets loss and the Giants ink their first-round pick. 

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GEICO SportsNite: Jets 00:02:10
Jeane Coakley talks to Jets coach Todd Bowles as they wrap up spring practices about the quarterback competition and the rookie safeties.

Jeane Coakley talks to Jets coach Todd Bowles as they wrap up spring practices about the quarterback competition and the rookie safeties.


 (Noah K. Murray)
(Noah K. Murray)

Jets DE Sheldon Richardson wants to stay with the team for the rest of his caeer, but is not open to giving a hometown discount. 

The Jets, who finished 5-11 last season, are entering a rebuilding phase. But Richardson wants to be a part of it.

"A lot of guys just want to go jump on a bandwagon," Richardson told Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News earlier this week. "Older guys. Later in their career, it's easy to go jump into a good situation. It's a free market, so by all means, do your thing. But me personally, I like to make history, not be a part of it."

Tags: Sheldon Richardson
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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Jets head coach Todd Bowles insinuated the team's starting QB is job still up for grabs, noting Thursday that there is currently no frontrunner.

The Jets, who are expected to turn to Josh McCown as their starter, have also been giving reps to Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty.

McCown, 37, signed a one-year deal worth $6 million this offseason.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg
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New York Jets inside linebacker Demario Davis (56) comes away with a fumble recovery during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. (Steven Ryan)
New York Jets inside linebacker Demario Davis (56) comes away with a fumble recovery during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. (Steven Ryan)

Jets linebacker Demario Davis took a $2.7 million pay cut in order to help facilitate the trade that brought him back to New York, according to Field Yates of ESPN.

Davis, who was set to earn $3.7 million in the final year of his contract, will now make $1 million this season. This includes a $100,000 signing bonus and a $900,000 base salary. He can also earn $1.225 million in incentives. 

Davis re-structured his contract at the time of the June 1 trade. 

Tags: Demario Davis
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 (Julio Cortez/AP)
(Julio Cortez/AP)

Jets quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates said he was impressed with Christian Hackenberg's passing in minicamp. 

Elsewhere, Yankees lose and Mets win their respective rubber games and Joe Girardi would have no problem with Aaron Judge in the Home Run Derby.

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