The New York Jets released running back Le’Veon Bell on Tuesday evening.
The Jets announced the news in a statement from general manager Joe Douglas amid media reports that the team was looking to trade Bell.
“After having conversations with Le’Veon and his agent and exploring potential trade options over the past couple of days, we have made the decision to release Le’Veon,” the statement reads. “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.
“We believe this decision is in the best interests of both parties and wish him future success.”
Bell responded to the news on Twitter.
— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) October 14, 2020
Tension between Bell, Jets amplified
Bell returned from injured reserve on Sunday to see 14 touches for 67 yards in a 30-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Only one of those touches was a catch as Bell remained largely absent from the passing game.
Bell didn’t speak with media after the game, but liked multiple social media posts critical of his limited role in the offense. Head coach Adam Gase wasn’t pleased with Bell’s method of communication.
“I hate that that’s the route we go with all this instead of just talking about it, but it seems that’s the way guys want to do it nowadays,” Gase told reporters on Monday.
Bell, Gase got off to a bad start
Bell and Gase’s relationship was strained from the beginning. Bell signed with the Jets in 2019 for four years and $52 million with $27 million guaranteed. The two-time All-Pro signed the deal after holding out the entire 2018 season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Jets acquired Bell under former general manager Mike Maccagnan before firing Maccagnan that same offseason. Gase reportedly didn’t agree with the Jets spending that much money on a running back, a notion he refuted.
From bad to worse
Bell didn’t come close to approaching his All-Pro form in 2019, tallying 789 rushing yards, 461 receiving yards and four total touchdowns while averaging a career-worst 3.2 yards per carry. Bell was frustrated with his offensive role. The Jets finished 7-9, good for third place in the AFC East.
Things have gotten worse this season. Bell carried the ball six times for 14 yards in the Jets’ season opener before leaving with a hamstring injury. Gase expressed regret for playing him briefly in the second half after he suffered the injury earlier in the game.
Bell spent three games on injured reserve before returning for Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals. The Jets dropped to 0-5 with the loss.
Bell, 28, leaves the Jets after less than two seasons with his $27 million in guaranteed money and a chance to start over with a team of his choosing. Whether he can revive his All-Pro form is yet to be seen.
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