The Bell tolls for New York

Managing Editor
Posted May 18, 2012

The safety position was a major area of concern for the Jets entering the offseason period. After stockpiling safeties through the draft and free agency, New York added former Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell to its defensive backfield on Friday.

According to multiple league sources, the New York Jets and free agent safety Yeremiah Bell have agreed to terms on a one-year deal purported to be worth 1.4 million. The contract includes a $1.1 million base-salary guarantee, a $200,000 signing bonus in addition to a $100,000 workout bonus.

The strong safety spent the past eight seasons with the Miami Dolphins, earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2009. The former Dolphin is nothing short of a tackling machine, tallying 107 take-downs last year and leading the team in tackles for the fourth consecutive season. At 34, Bell is regarded as a depth signing for the Jets who have made upgrading the safety position a top offseason priority. Bell will fall behind recently inked safety LaRon Landry on Gang Green’s depth chart, while sixth-round draft pick Josh Bush and seventh-rounder Antonio Allen will compete for a spot in the rotation.

Bell’s arrival likely spells the end of the line for strong safety Eric Smith, whose pass covering deficiencies cost the Jets dearly in 2011. Smith’s release could come as early as next week. As for free agent Jim Leonhard, New York is hopeful that the quarterback of their secondary can return from knee surgery, this following an injury he suffered during a game last December against the Kansas City Chiefs.

If healthy, Leonhard would provide the Green-and-White with a cerebral presence in the defensive backfield and strong veteran leadership. The Jets are awaiting an update on Leonhard’s recovery before they mull a possible contract offer. As for Bell, New York has added another in-the-box type safety who exemplifies fierce physicality and a fearless style of play. Bell worked out for the Eagles, Chiefs and Titans before ultimately signing with New York on Friday.

Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for

You can follow him on Twitter @rlaughland By:

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