Jets cut ties with former Steelers star
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Later, Le’Veon.
The New York Jets surprisingly released disgruntled running back Le’Veon Bell on Tuesday night, ending a disappointing tenure after less than two full seasons.
The team issued a statement from general manager Joe Douglas in which he said the Jets made the move after having several conversations with Bell and his agent during the last few days and exploring trade options.
“The Jets organization appreciates Le’Veon’s efforts during his time here and we know he worked hard to make significant contributions to this team,” Douglas said. “We believe this decision is in the best interests of both parties and wish him future success.”
In a post on Twitter shortly after the Jets’ statement, Bell posted only a hands in prayer emoji — implying that the feeling is mutual and his wish was granted.
He later followed that up with another tweet: “Got a lot to prove,” he said. “I’m ready to go.”
As a vested veteran, Bell does not have to clear waivers. He will be available to sign with another team after 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Bell and coach Adam Gase appeared to not mesh since the running back signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with $35 million guaranteed last year as a free agent. There were reports that Gase was opposed to the Jets — mainly then-general manager Mike Maccagnan — giving such a large contract to a running back.
Bell spent his first six NFL years in Pittsburgh, but sat out the entire 2018 season in a contract dispute with the Steelers. He became a free agent and joined the Jets in March 2019.
Instead, Bell never consistently flashed the skills that made him arguably the NFL’s best dual threat running back before sitting out. He rushed for 789 yards and three touchdowns, and had a career-low 3.2 yards per carry. Bell also wasn’t as prominently featured in the passing game as expected, catching 66 passes for 461 yards and a score.
He spoke at times of wanting to be able to see more touches to try to help the team win. Gase spoke this offseason about needing to find ways to use him more effectively in the offense.
None of that materialized.
Bell. who missed three games with a hamstring injury, finished with 74 yards on 19 carries and three catches for 39 yards. His latest frustrations were evident when he liked a few Twitter posts in which some suggested he should be used more in the passing game. He also liked a post in which someone suggested the Jets should trade him.
New York tried to find a trade partner, but his salary was a tough sell. He has $6 million remaining on his base salary this year, and it’s fully guaranteed. Bell was likely to be cut in the offseason as a salary cap casualty, so it made sense that New York would look to try to deal him before the NFL’s trade deadline in three weeks.
The Jets instead decided to part ways now — even with the team 0-5 for the first time since 1996 and now without arguably their most talented player on offense.
Gase has been on the hot seat for weeks, and this move will surely be another strike against the coach who has had a reputation in New York and his previous tenure in Miami for not getting along with some veteran players.