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Le'Veon Bell: Jets payout doesn't measure up after RB's Steelers ploy

CLOSE SportsPulse: While one superstar is leaving the Big Apple another is on their way to joining it. Le'Veon Bell is expected to be a New York Jet on a four-year deal worth $52.5 million. USA TODAY

CONNECT TWEET LINKEDIN COMMENT EMAIL MORE “Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back.”

Maybe Le'Veon Bell should reference that line from Harvey MacKay whenever he's asked about his self-imposed 2018 NFL sabbatical.

Otherwise?

Welp, it sure appears the former Steelers star wasted a prime season of his precious earning power while dragging his reputation and Pittsburgh's Super Bowl hopes into a blast furnace.

ESPN reported early Wednesday that Bell had agreed to join the New York Jets , who offered the elite, multi-dimensional Pro Bowler a four-year, $52.5 million deal.

So what did Bell accomplish after getting the opportunity he'd so desperately sought to shop his wares unfettered in the league's free agent market, a place where box safeties are pulling down deals averaging $14 million ?

► The $35 million in guarantees Bell secured establishes a new record at the running back position.

► Moving to a media market like the Big Apple might be a boon to his nascent rap career.

► And ... well ... hmmm.

And what did Bell sacrifice in the name of football capitalism?

► $14.54 million — guaranteed — to play one final season in Pittsburgh.

► A legit shot at a Super Bowl ring ... one he'll probably never get with the Jets, who are cap-flush but perpetually rebuilding and still mired in a division owned by Tom Brady.

► The goodwill of many Steelers teammates, several who clearly felt betrayed when he didn't show up last season. NFL players almost never criticize a colleague, especially one in their own locker room, whenever it comes to business matters. But Bell's egomania proved too much in Pittsburgh ... and don't think his new J-E-T-S teammates D-O-N-T K-N-O-W I-T.

► And, ultimately, Bell's selfishness undermined his self-perceived worth. His $13.1 average annual salary barely moves him ahead of Arizona's David Johnson, who signed a new contract in 2018, and leaves him more than $1 million shy of what Todd Gurley, who also earned an extension last summer, is pulling down yearly.

This is the same Bell who was apparently seeking a payday in line with wide receiver and former Steelers teammate Antonio Brown (speaking of hubris, by the way) who was raking in $17 million per season before the Raiders agreed to sweeten the pot .

BROWN: WR won by forcing trade from Steelers

NEWSLETTERS Get the Sports newsletter delivered to your inbox We're sorry, but something went wrong Sports news, no matter the season. Stop by for the scores, stay for the stories. Please try again soon, or contact Customer Service at 1-800-872-0001. Delivery: Daily Invalid email address Thank you! You're almost signed up for Sports Keep an eye out for an email to confirm your newsletter registration. More newsletters And it was just a year ago, according to NFL Network, that Bell declined a five-year, $70 million offer from the Steelers that would have paid out $30 million in the first two seasons while stripping away the uncertainty of the franchise tag.

Fast forward to 2019, and Bell has forfeited a very generous salary, hard to come by at a position especially susceptible to the NFL meat grinder. He took a stand ... to eventually accept a marginally better pact in terms of guarantees yet inferior in terms of yearly salary and total compensation — and worse still when factoring inflation and time value of money.

And now Bell is teamed with Sam Darnold, Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson instead of Ben Roethlisberger, (maybe) Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster ... which is to say Bell will get the opportunity to get close and personal, much more quickly and with quite a few more of those opposing defenders whenever he crashes into the line or takes a pass in the flat.

This is probably a good time to cite another memorable Quote: .

"Be careful what you wish for — you just might get it."

***

Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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1. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: Agreed to deal with Jets Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 2. Trey Flowers, DE, Patriots: Agreed to deal with Lions Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 3. Earl Thomas, S, Seahawks Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 4. Nick Foles, QB, Eagles: Agreed to deal with Jaguars Eric Hartline, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 5. C.J. Mosley, ILB, Ravens: Agreed to deal with Jets Tommy Gilligan, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 6. Preston Smith, OLB, Redskins Brad Mills, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 7. Matt Paradis, C, Broncos: Agreed to deal with Panthers Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 8. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Redskins Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 9. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Rams Robert Deutsch, Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 10. Landon Collins, S, Giants: Agreed to deal with Redskins Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 11. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints Derick E. Hingle, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 12. Golden Tate, WR, Eagles Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 13. Bryce Callahan, CB, Bears Patrick Gorski, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 14. Trent Brown, OT, Patriots: Agreed to deal with Raiders Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 15. Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 16. Anthony Barr, LB, Vikings: Agreed to deal with Vikings Harrison Barden, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 17. Adam Humphries, WR, Buccaneers: Agreed to deal with Titans Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen NR: Tyrann Mathieu, S, Texans Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 19. Tyrell Williams, WR, Chargers Denny Medley, Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 20. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Saints: Agreed to deal with Saints Chuck Cook, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 21. Za'Darius Smith, OLB, Ravens: Agreed to deal with Packers Tommy Gilligan, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 22. Sheldon Richardson, DT, Vikings: Agreed to deal with Browns Brace Hemmelgarn, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 23. Daryl Williams, OT, Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan, Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 24. Ziggy Ansah, DE, Detroit Lions Raj Mehta, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen 25. Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington Redskins Geoff Burke, Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen NR: Ronald Darby, CB, Eagles Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen NR: Adrian Amos, S, Bears: Agreed to deal with Packers Mike Dinovo, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen NR: Lamarcus Joyner, S, Rams: Agreed to deal with Raiders Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen NR: Rodger Saffold, G, Rams: Agreed to deal with Titans Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen NR: Clay Matthews, OLB, Packers Jeff Hanisch, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen NR: Terrell Suggs, OLB, Ravens: Agreed to deal with Cardinals Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen NR: Kareem Jackson, CB, Texans: Agreed to deal with Broncos Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen NR: Jared Cook, TE, Raiders Cary Edmondson, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen NR: Cole Beasley, WR, Cowboys: Agreed to deal with Bills Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen NR: Randall Cobb, WR, Packers Jeff Hanisch, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen NR: Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles Jonathan Dyer, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen NR: Thomas Davis, LB, Panthers: Agreed to deal with Chargers Jeremy Brevard, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen NR: John Brown, WR, Ravens: Agreed to deal with Bills Evan Habeeb, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen NR: Cameron Wake, DE, Dolphins: Agreed to deal with Titans Rich Barnes, USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen Interested in this topic? You may also want to view these photo galleries: Replay 1 of 39 2 of 39 3 of 39 4 of 39 5 of 39 6 of 39 7 of 39 8 of 39 9 of 39 10 of 39 11 of 39 12 of 39 13 of 39 14 of 39 15 of 39 16 of 39 17 of 39 18 of 39 19 of 39 20 of 39 21 of 39 22 of 39 23 of 39 24 of 39 25 of 39 26 of 39 27 of 39 28 of 39 29 of 39 30 of 39 31 of 39 32 of 39 33 of 39 34 of 39 35 of 39 36 of 39 37 of 39 38 of 39 39 of 39 Autoplay Show Thumbnails Show Captions Last Slide Next Slide