There were two things that defined Le’Veon Bell’s tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers: one was fantastic play on the field. The other was frequent unavailability. During his time with the New York Jets, he will only be remembered for the latter, as the team elected tonight to release him, after failing to execute a trade for the former All-Pro running back.
This appears to have been a mutually desired course of action. Bell had been using social media (as Steelers fans grew accustomed to) to passive aggressively express his displeasure, and like his former teammate, is celebrating his release from the team whom he first joined after voluntarily jettisoning himself from Pittsburgh, posting a ‘prayer hands’ emoji as the news came out.
Statement from GM Joe Douglas pic.twitter.com/By9XevVXVv
— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 14, 2020
Sounds like the feelings were mutual. https://t.co/iee3am1kHf
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 14, 2020
Signed in 2019 to a four-year, $52.5 million deal by the New York Jets, which included $27 million in guarantees, including the first two years of his contract, Bell was successful in resetting the market with his deal, and he’s also the second to be let go under these big new running back contracts, the first being Todd Gurley. Both have been with winless teams this season.
It had been clear since the beginning that Bell and Jets head coach Adam Gase were never on the same page, and it didn’t help matters when reports surfaced that Gase was opposed to Bell’s signing from the very beginning. Subsequently, Bell has been consistently unsatisfied with his usage in the Jets’ offense.
The ultimate irony came earlier this year when Gase said that Bell was held out of practice due to tightness in his hamstring. He tweeted out that nothing was wrong with his hamstring, then proceeded to tweak his hamstring in the opener and was placed on injured reserve.
Bell returned this Sunday, carrying the ball 13 times for 60 yards, adding just one reception on one target for seven yards. In his 17-game Jets career, he rushed for 863 yards and three touchdowns on 264 carries, averaging 3.3 yards per carry, with 500 receiving yards and one touchdown on 69 receptions. In all, he totaled just 4.1 yards per touch and 1363 yards and four touchdowns in New York.
He exited his five years with the Steelers holding the highest average yards from scrimmage per game figure in NFL history, totaling 7996 rushing and receiving yards during his 62-game career in Pittsburgh. He also rushed for another 424 yards with 91 receiving yards in four postseason games, with four touchdowns.
Now he will be looking for a third team, immediately a free agent as a veteran (he would have had to go through waivers if released after the trade deadline in early November). The question is, who needs a running back—especially one who has been openly disgruntled for the majority of his career?