Le’Veon Bell’s future with the New York Jets remains uncertain, lending credence to the idea that the team might not be tied to their star running back long-term.
It was a disappointing first season with the Jets for Bell, the team’s big-splash, big-name signing last offseason. The issue with Bell wasn’t just his production–or lack thereof this year. It was that he wasn’t necessarily tied to this current Jets regime.
Bell was a signing of former general manager Mike Maccagnan, who was let go last summer and current general manager Joe Douglas was then brought in from the Philadelphia Eagles. There has been speculation that head coach Adam Gase wasn’t on board with bringing in Bell, and Monday’s lukewarm endorsement of the team’s leading rusher certainly doesn’t dispel that line of thinking. With Douglas not bringing in Bell, and Gase not fully behind the signing last offseason, Bell may not have many advocates asking for his return.
The topic of Bell was the first question fired at Gase on Monday during his season-ending press conference at the team’s facility.
“He’s under contract for three more years,” Gase told reporters on Monday morning, before deferring to Douglas. “You can ask Joe tomorrow.”
Douglas has scheduled media availability on Tuesday at the team’s facility.
A follow-up question was met with a similar answer from Gase when responding to a question on if he wants Bell to return.
“You can ask Joe tomorrow,” Gase said. “I’m not in charge of personnel.”
Bell’s 3.2 yards per carry are the lowest of his career. His 789 rushing yards were the lowest of his career since 2015, when he played in just six games. His three rushing touchdowns were also tied for the lowest of his career.
It isn’t necessarily fair for Bell to shoulder all or even most of the blame for his poor production. The loss of starting quarterback Sam Darnold for three games after Week 1 surely hurt the balance of his offense and made running the ball a challenge as opposing defenses stacked the box to key-in on Bell. Then injuries decimated the offensive line, making running the ball even harder.
Gase and Douglas will meet on Wednesday and Thursday for personnel meetings. The usually mum head coach did not offer much in terms of details as to how these meetings will go.
“Then we’ll talk how we want to structure those, kind of how we want to go through everything,” Gase said. “I’ve never done it with him.”