Joe Douglas Not Looking to Trade Le'Veon Bell, Excited for Running Back to Return
Rumors of Le’Veon Bell’s demise with the New York Jets appear to be greatly exaggerated.
After what might have been the most difficult season of his six-year NFL career, rumors had linked Bell to being trade bait for the Jets this offseason. Instead, it appears that he might be a cornerstone of the team’s rebuilding process.
Speaking to the media at the NFL Combine on Tuesday, Jets general manager Joe Douglas praised Bell and denied that the team was looking to trade him. This, even as Bell didn’t have the type of production that justified the big free agent contract he signed with the Jets last offseason.
“I addressed this at the end of season meeting. There hasn’t been talk as far as him going anywhere. We’re excited about Le’Veon,” Douglas told the media in Indianapolis on Tuesday.
“Le’Veon has been a great teammate. I can’t tell you how great he’s been. I had a great conversation with him at the end of season exit meeting. I know he’s been working hard down in Miami down at Bommarito’s. I know he’s excited to get back. We’re excited to have him.”
Bell rushed for 789 yards last season, the lowest total of any season in his career where he’s played at least 13 games. His 3.2 yards per carry were the lowest of his career and the three rushing touchdowns tied for the least of any season he’s played.
A big part of the reason why Bell simply wasn’t productive – in fact the primary reason – has to do with the offensive line. Neglected by the Jets in free agency and the NFL Draft for the most part over the past three years, the unit failed to give Bell proper running lanes.
Douglas defended Bell against criticism that the running back was on the decline.
“I wouldn’t say his play declined, I mean his numbers probably aren’t where he’d want them to be. We need to do a better job of opening holes for him. We need to put him in a good position to be as productive as he was in Pittsburgh,” Douglas said.
“I do think you did see, in some of the later games - I mean our entire team did well, but specifically the Baltimore game, we saw Le’Veon be Le’Veon. That was one of his more productive games. We have to just put him in those type of situations throughout the year.”