Former Florida Gators RB Lamical Perine to Take on 'Bigger Role' with Jets

Zach Goodall

Photo credit: NewYorkJets.com

The New York Jets and All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell never seemed to be an ideal fit. 

After holding out of the 2018 season from the Pittsburgh Steelers regarding a contract dispute, Bell tested the free agent market and signed a four-year, $52.5 million deal with New York that included $35 million in guarantees.

On the surface, investing in one of the top offensive players in football made sense. Removing 2018, Bell had posted back-to-back seasons of 1,200+ rushing yards and 600+ receiving yards, scoring 20 touchdowns along the way. However, a report two months later indicated that new head coach Adam Gase never wanted to sign Bell in the first place, and it went downhill from there.

Bell's first season as a Jet was a disappointment as he carved out just 789 yards (3.2 yards per carry) and three touchdowns on the ground, to go with 461 receiving yards and one score through the air. That led New York to sign veteran running back Frank Gore in the offseason and drafting former Florida Gators running back Lamical Perine in the fourth round of April's NFL Draft.

Meanwhile, Bell continued to have back-and-forths with Gase, missed the first three weeks of the season due to a hamstring injury, and was subsequently released on Tuesday after being shopped around. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday.

That leaves the Jets with Gore and Perine to headline the run game. Gore is going to be an NFL Hall of Famer one day with 15,000+ yards under his belt - the issue is that he's closer to enshrinement than his peak playing days at 37 years old.

The Jets backfield could end up belonging to Perine, should he take the reigns and run with them. Gore will start on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, but Gase plans to have Perine take on a "bigger role" within the offense moving forward.

“I feel like we know how to use him, and [with] his skill set, there’s a lot of things he can do,” Gase said, according to the New York Post. “There’s an explosiveness there where we’ve seen him take it to the house from 80 yards, and that speed is real.”

Although Perine didn't play a down on offense last week with Bell remaining in-house, the Jets will absolutely rely on their fourth-round rookie to make an impact moving forward. Perine displayed an all-around game at Florida, toting the rock for 2,485 yards (five yards per carry) and 22 touchdowns at Florida while emerging as a receiver during his senior season with 40 receptions for 262 yards and five scores.

Bell is now out of town, Gore isn't getting any younger, and Gase is a fan: The remainder of the 2020 season could be what Lamical Perine needs to emerge as an NFL running back.

"I’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity and do my thing. I’m here for a reason. I always tell myself that,” Perine said this week. “It’s a challenge. I feel like it’s another opportunity, another challenge to show these folks what I can do on the field.”

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