A breakdown of the New York Jets' 2019 free-agent signings.
Le'Veon Bell, running back
The Jets have signed Bell to a four-year, $52.5 million contract that includes $35 million in total guarantees. Here's a closer look at the running back who spent the previous six seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, including last season when he sat out in a contract dispute:
What it means: This is a home run for the Jets, no matter how you look at it. The money is big, but not crazy big; his $13.1 million-a-year average ranks second among running backs, behind Todd Gurley's $14.37 million average. There was a soft market for Bell, and the Jets wisely didn't blink when he shopped their final offer around the league. From a football standpoint, Bell is the impact player they haven't had at running back since Curtis Martin. No one will benefit more than quarterback Sam Darnold, who didn't have a consistent threat in the backfield last season. Bell can carry the ball 30 times a game, if necessary, and he can be a short-area weapon in the passing game. One current Jets player, speaking Tuesday before Bell's agreement leaked, said, "We need a game-changer on offense. We need somebody that makes a defense worry." Bell should be that guy.
What's the risk: This is a unique situation because Bell hasn't played since 2017, so we're talking uncharted territory. Will he still have the same fire after a year of making rap music, jet skiing in Miami and sitting on his couch? What about the rust factor? Or will he be fresher than ever because of a year without pounding? Remember, he's a mileage back -- more than 1,500 career touches. When running backs lose it, they lose it fast. In this case, there's no way to predict. The Jets also haven't had much luck with big-ticket free agents. They come for the money and never recapture what got them the money in the first place. Most recently, it happened with Darrelle Revis. Bell needs to be a star, because general manager Mike Maccagnan can't afford another big-money bust.
C.J. Mosley, linebacker
The Jets have signed Mosley to a five-year, $85 million contract that includes $51 million in guarantees. Here's a closer look at the linebacker who spent the previous five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens:
What it means: Wow. Wow. Wow. The Jets have added a four-time Pro Bowl player from the league's top-ranked defense, making him the highest-paid inside linebacker in league history. Jamal Adams wanted more dawgs on defense? Well, Mosley is a dawg, a tackling machine who always plays at a high level of consistency. He's had less than 10 missed tackles in each of the past two seasons, according to Pro Football Focus. He's one of only two players to record 500 tackles, eight sacks and eight interceptions since 2014. (The other is Luke Kuechly.) It likely means 2016 first-round pick Darron Lee will be the odd-man out. Look for him to go on the trading block. Presumably, Avery Williamson and Jordan Jenkins will be the other two starters in the 3-4. Clearly, new coordinator Gregg Williams carries a lot of clout.
What's the risk: The contact is exorbitant. Who pays an inside linebacker $17 million a year? It could make him the highest-paid player in team history based on fully guaranteed money, if it exceeds $39 million (Darrelle Revis, 2015). The Jets entered free agency with more than $80 million in cap room, and they added a linebacker with no history of sacking the quarterback. That's a curious strategy that could bite them in a couple of years. General manager Mike Maccagnan is adding talent, no doubt, but there are other needs that are more pressing. If this impacts their ability to add an offensive playmaker (Le'Veon Bell, anyone?), it'll be a case of overkill.
Chandler Catanzaro, place-kicker
The Jets have re-signed Catanzaro, who kicked for them in 2017. It's a one-year contract for an undisclosed amount. Here's a closer look at Catanzaro, who spent last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers:
What it means: Let's not sugar-coat it: This represents a downgrade for the Jets, who let Pro Bowl kicker Jason Myers leave the building as a free agent. It came down to a financial decision. They didn't want to match the contract Myers received from the Seattle Seahawks -- four years, $15.5 million -- so they decided to go on the cheap. Catanzaro figures to get about $2 million, if that. If he blows a game with a late miss, the fans will be screaming, "Shoulda kept Myers!" On the positive side, Catanzaro is familiar with special teams coordinator Brant Boyer. He played in 2017 with holder Lachlan Edwards and long-snapper Thomas Hennessy, so there shouldn't be any chemistry issues.
What's the risk: Can he recover mentally from his Tampa debacle? Tampa is where kickers go to die, and Catanzaro got tossed aside last November after missing four of 15 field goals and four of 27 extra point attempts. The Bucs cut him despite a $3.75 million guarantee; he was their sixth kicker since the beginning of the 2015 season. The Jets will be fine if Catanzaro, 28, can perform the way he did for them in 2017, when he made 83 percent of his field goal attempts and showed a booming leg on kickoffs.
Steve McLendon, nose tackle
The Jets have re-signed McLendon to a one-year deal for $2.5 million. Here's a closer look at the nose tackle who spent the previous three seasons with the Jets:
What it means: McLendon's value to the team increased last month, when the Jets decided to release co-nose tackle Mike Pennel. At that point, it made sense to bring back McLendon on a modest deal. At 33, he's best suited for a rotational role, although he could wind up as the starter by default. He played in 42 percent of the defensive snaps last season, mainly on first and second downs. The man can stop the run in his sleep. With McLendon and Henry Anderson re-signing, it means the starting defensive line remains intact. But there could be a big addition in the draft, perhaps Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams.
What's the risk: Not much, as you can tell by the contract, but you have to wonder if McLendon has enough quickness to play in Gregg Williams' attacking 3-4 scheme. His production declined last season based on the previous year. If nothing else, McLendon is a terrific locker-room presence and he prides himself on mentoring young players. He would be an ideal mentor for Williams, a fellow Alabama native.
Jamison Crowder, wide receiver
The Jets have signed Crowder to a three-year deal worth $28.5 million ($17 million guaranteed). Here's a closer look at the wide receiver who spent the previous four seasons with the Washington Redskins:
What it means: Darnold has a new slot receiver. Crowder replaces Jermaine Kearse (free agent), who had a down season and will not be re-signed by the Jets. Crowder, too, is coming off a poor season (29 catches for 388 yards, both career lows), but he missed seven games with an ankle injury. When healthy, Crowder is a cinch for 65 catches and 800 yards. He has very good short-area quickness, but not deep speed. Darnold had the league's lowest completion percentage (62.9) on attempts in the 1-to-10 yard range: Crowder can help change that. He turns 26 in June, so there should be plenty of good football in front of him. The Redskins wanted him back, but Crowder's cost was too rich for them.
What's the risk: Crowder has missed only eight games in his career, but he has dealt with nagging injuries in training camp. A $17 million guarantee is a lot of money for a 5-foot-9 slot receiver, but coach Adam Gase felt he needed another proven weapon to make his offense click. The Jets have a decent trio in Crowder, Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson, but guess what? They still don't have a true No. 1 receiver.
Henry Anderson, defensive lineman
The New York Jets agreed to terms with Henry Anderson on a three-year, $25.2 million contract. Here's a closer look at the defensive lineman who spent last season with the Jets:
What it means: There had been a lot of speculation about whether Anderson would be a scheme fit for new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, but the truth is the Jets never wanted to lose him, whether it was a 3-4 or 4-3. We now know it’s a 3-4 front, which suits Anderson’s skill set. He thrived last season in the old 3-4, recording a career-high seven sacks. He drew double-team blocking on 60 percent of his snaps, a team high, according to ESPN pass-rush metrics powered by NFL Next Gen Stats. In fact, only 10 defensive linemen and outside linebackers across the league got double-teamed more than Anderson (based on a minimum of 300 pass rushes). He’s not a game-changer, but he’s a solid, complementary player who can play multiple spots. He and Leonard Williams are expected to start at defensive end, with Nathan Shepherd behind them. They still need a starting nose tackle.
What's the risk: The he only real concern with Anderson is durability. He played every game last season after arriving in a trade from the Indianapolis Colts, but he missed 19 games in his first three seasons. Was last year an aberration? Otherwise, Anderson, who will be 28 for the season, is just entering the backside of his prime years.
Josh Bellamy, wide receiver
The Jets signed Bellamy to a two-year contract for a maximum of $7 million, including a guarantee of $2.75 million. Here's a closer look at wide receiver who spent the previous five seasons with the Chicago Bears:
What it means: Bellamy projects as the Jets' No. 4 receiver, for now. He's a good fit as a backup because he contributes a lot on special teams, which creates roster flexibility. In fact, he played only 298 offensive snaps in 2018, finishing with 14 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown -- his lowest receiving totals since 2014. He's versatile in that he can play the slot as well as outside receiver Why Bellamy? He's a Gase Guy. Coach Adam Gase was Bellamy's offensive coordinator for the Bears in 2015. Every new coach likes to have some of his "guys" in the locker room, and Bellamy -- enormously popular in Chicago -- will be one of them.
What's the risk: It's a relatively steep price for a No. 4 receiver/special teamer. Don't expect him to be a big factor on offense, as he has averaged only 19 receptions per year over the past four. He turns 30 on May 18.
Brian Poole, cornerback
The Jets have agreed to terms with Brian Poole on a one-year, $3.5 million contract, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported. Here's a closer look at the cornerback who spent the previous three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons:
What this means: The Jets were fairly desperate for cornerback help after losing Buster Skrine to the Chicago Bears and deciding to let Morris Claiborne hit the open market. Poole projects as Skrine’s replacement as the slot corner, the position he played in Atlanta. The Falcons aren’t deep at cornerback, yet they declined to tender him as a restricted free agent -- which says something. Poole has at least one trait that makes him a good fit for the Jets -- blitzing ability. He’s had 23 quarterback pressures over the last three seasons, third among cornerbacks, per Pro Football Focus. You can bet new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will unleash him on slot blitzes. Poole, 26, recorded three interceptions and three sacks last season, both career highs.
What's the risk: Financially, there’s no risk. The question is whether Poole can hold up in coverage, which is kind of an important thing in a division that includes two premier slot receivers -- Julian Edelman (New England Patriots) and Cole Beasley (Buffalo Bills). Poole’s coverage stats slipped last season and he committed a career-high seven penalties. To be fair, penalties haven’t always been a problem (only 13 in three years). The Jets have some issues at corner. Their top three are Trumaine Johnson, Darryl Roberts and Poole; their bench is filled with young, unproven players. This will be a draft priority.
Tom Compton, offensive lineman
The Jets have signed Compton to a one-year contract. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Here's a closer look at the offensive lineman who spent last season with the Minnesota Vikings:
What it means: This is a depth signing for the Jets. Compton can play left guard (he started 14 games last season), right guard and right tackle. The Jets are dangerously thin on the offensive line, and they needed an experienced and versatile player. Actually, they could use one or two more of those. In essence, Compton fills the Brent Qvale/Dakota Dozier role -- a multi-position backup who can start in a pinch. Compton, a sixth-round pick of the Washington Redskins in 2012, has started 30 games for four different teams.
What's the risk: Compton, who will be 30 on opening day, didn't have a good season in 2018. He struggled in pass protection, ranking 47th among guards, according to Pro Football Focus. He also had an issue with penalties, as he committed seven (six accepted) -- four holding calls and three false starts. Compton and fellow guard Mike Remmers yielded more than 70 pressures between them, putting Kirk Cousins under duress. There's no financial risk with Compton; there's no guarantee he will make the team. For now, he helps fill out the depth chart.