The firing of Mike Maccagnan last week, just weeks after he ran the draft, and months after he spent $120 million in free agency and helped hire the new head coach, may go down as one of the strangest, craziest moments in the star-crossed history of the Jets.
But that would seem like nothing if they soon decide to trade the recently signed Le'Veon Bell.
They won't, of course. At least they probably won't. One team source texted a flat "No" when asked about the possibility by SNY over the weekend. But the wacky idea still gained some traction over the weekend as many tried to predict what's next for the Jets and their interim GM/head coach Adam Gase. The rumor that Gase would soon trade Bell grew like wildfire when former ESPN NFL reporter John Clayton said in a radio interview on Friday, "I could absolutely see the Jets trading (Bell) before the start of the season."
That would be just about the dumbest thing Gase and the Jets could do.
Yes, it's true that Gase wasn't in favor of giving Bell a four-year, $52.5 million contract, according to team sources, and that it was part of a rift that developed between he and Maccagnan that led to Gase winning the Jets' mini Game of Thrones. But it wasn't that Gase didn't like Bell as a player or didn't think he could use him, the sources added. It's just that he thought the Jets were paying too much.
Indeed, in the final hours before Bell signed, many believed the Jets were bidding against themselves.
Gase, apparently, would've preferred to hold the financial line, and maybe end up with a more affordable running back, such as Tevin Coleman, who ended up going to the 49ers on a two-year, $8.5 million deal. But Gase, presumably, is also not stupid. He knows that the 27-year-old Bell is still one of the best running backs/weapons in the league.
And once a free agent is signed, once he's on the roster, who cares how much he was paid? That'll be for the next GM to deal with in the future. Gase's job is to coach him now. And Bell is the best weapon the Jets have. He's one of the best weapons they've had in a decade.
Now the Jets are supposed to trade him and go with Elijah McGuire at running back? Or Ty Montgomery? Or just pick up some retread off the street? And for what? Bell didn't exactly have a ton of suitors on the free agent market. Given that lack of interest, would anyone give up more than a mid-round draft pick?
Besides, even if the Jets could find a palatable deal, trading Bell just a few months after he was signed is the kind of move that could get a GM -- like Gase is now -- fired. The Jets have already handed Bell $12 million in bonuses. That money is paid. It doesn't transfer to another team. Bell's new team would get him for four years, $40 million with only another $13 million guaranteed. That's an absolute steal.
And the Jets will have paid $12 million for nothing. No rushes, no catches, no days in a Jets uniform. At this point, Bell hasn't even been at the facility for a single day of practice.
It would be as if they just threw all that money away.
How does that make any sense?
It doesn't. And Gase surely knows it. And CEO Christopher Johnson, who was said to be one of the driving forces behind the Bell signing, knowing he needed a star to build around, surely knows it too.
A year from now? Sure, Bell could be traded then, even though it wouldn't make much more sense in 2020 either. The only way to get good, close-to-equal value back is if Bell has a spectacular season. And if he does, even Gase would surely have to admit that Bell would be worth the price for the Jets by then - especially considering the early reviews of his contract were that it was a very good deal for the Jets. If he's a bust, then what are the Jets going to get in return? A Day 3 draft pick at best?
So don't get crazy. Bell will be on the Jets in 2019 and it's a good bet he'll be on the team in 2020 too. Yes, it's hard to say that 100 percent at the moment given that the Jets are in a state of flux. No one knows what Gase is truly capable of doing after he seemingly engineered the ousting of Maccagnan. And no one knows what the new general manager will do, since the new general manager hasn't been identified yet.
But trading Bell truly would be crazier and more ill-conceived than firing Maccagnan. And if the Jets aren't a laughingstock now, they surely would be then. Just weeks ago, the Jets looked like a franchise that had finally put everything together and was on the right track towards a better future. Now, no one is sure where they're headed anymore.
Trading Bell, though, would certainly add some clarity to that, because the only thing it would do is make the Jets' current situation even worse.