Bill Belichick gave reporters a homework assignment of sorts Thursday.
Belichick gave the standard answer:
"I wouldn't really be able to talk about anybody who's not a member of our team now."
But he also added this:
"Whatever I've said about Bell on the record before, I stand by that."
What has Belichick said about Bell before? Good question!
Here are Belichick's remarks about the three-time Pro Bowler from September 2019 prior to the Patriots' Week 3 matchup with the Jets:
"Bell’s clearly one of the top backs in the league. Outstanding with the ball in his hands, great receiver, just a really hard matchup player and does an excellent job of breaking tackles.
"He’s a hard guy to get on the ground, whether he spins, jumps over guys, makes them miss in the open field, puts his shoulder down and runs through them."
Here's what Belichick said about Bell in December 2017 when he was a member of the Steelers, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"He’s a great player,” Belichick said. “He’s almost impossible to stop. He does everything well. He runs well, great power, quickness, vision, excellent receiver, hard to tackle. The guy is a great player."
And here's one more Belichick quote on Bell from 2016, via our Tom E. Curran:
"Oh my God. He’s a tremendous player, great hands, catches the ball, very quick, makes people miss, strong, breaks tackles, excellent balance, tough, doesn’t run out of bounds, fights for extra yardage, a great player. ... Bell’s as good as anybody we’ll play."
Are you sensing a trend here?
It's important to note that Belichick gasses up all of his opponents and has gushed about virtually every NFL star he's faced.
It's also important to note the Patriots are exceptionally deep at running back and don't have a pressing need to sign Bell, especially if he seeks close to the $15 million he was set to earn with the Jets this season.
But the Patriots reportedly discussed a Bell trade with New York before the Jets released him, and judging by Belichick's comments about the talented running back, that's not very surprising.