Bell signed for the Jets after sitting out the 2018 season following the Steelers’ decision to tie him to a second consecutive franchise tag. Choosing to protect his body from injury in preparation to receive a large contract on the open market, Bell did not play a single snap for the Steelers and so went for a long time between NFL matches.
For the Jets, Bell has been unable to replicate his pre-2018 form that he exhibited consistently for Pittsburgh, form that earned him three Pro Bowl appearances and two All Pro nominations. To Bell’s credit, he has been put behind a poor offensive line and was dropped into one of the worst outfits in the NFL, but more big plays and yards would still have been expected from the 28-year-old.
The opposite is true of Bell’s new destination, however, and he has every chance for success in this Chiefs line-up. The former Steeler now signs for the Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs and will form a backfield tandem with highly rated rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
“Kansas City, #ChiefsKingdom, thank you for the opportunity, let’s go!” Bell tweeted after news of his arrival in Kansas broke.
Edwards-Helaire had a strong start to his rookie season but has not been able to carry the Chief’s running game on his shoulders as was hoped and will now share snaps and carries with Le’Veon Bell. Bell’s addition also gives Edwards-Helaire the opportunity to learn from a veteran of the league who has experienced many highs but also many tribulations in his time in the league.
Meanwhile the Jets, who sit bottom of the AFC East with a record of 0-5, will go forward with 15-year veteran of the league Frank Gore as their main back with La’Mical Perine sitting second in the depth chart. In third is Ty Johnson, who has not played a single snap this season.
With quarterback Sam Darnold forced to the sidelines through injury, the Jets are seemingly playing only for pride for the remainder of the season and will secretly hope to earn that first overall pick in the 2021 draft. Bell’s departure may signal the start of the Jets choosing to trade away some of its older talent in hopes of sparking an effective rebuild.
“After having conversations with Le’Veon and his agent and exploring potential trade options over the past couple of days, we have made the decision to release Le’Veon,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas said. “The Jets organization appreciates Le’Veon’s efforts during his time here and we know he worked hard to make significant contributions to this team. We believe this decision is in the best interests of both parties and wish him future success.”
The relationship between Bell and his head coach has been the source of much speculation since the running back’s arrival in New York and Adam Gase was reportedly never sold on the idea to sign him. Gase’s abrasive attitude and hard man-management style has been noted before and this is allegedly something that Bell failed to get on with.
The strained relationship, added to the Jet’s misfortune and Bell’s personal failings on the field, meant that such a move was always likely. According to a Jets statement, the team shopped around in search of any potential trade deals but there was insufficient demand.
“We just felt like it was best to part ways, give him the opportunity to go somewhere else,” New York Jets head coach Adam Gase said. “For us, I want nothing but the best for him getting the opportunity to go somewhere else and have success. It’s tough, it’s a tough decision to make, but we felt like that was best for us where we are right now, and we’ve got to move on to Miami.”
“At the end of the day, offensively, we really haven’t done a whole bunch to impress anybody right now,” Gase said. “We’ve got a lot of things to get corrected. We have to do better, coach better, play better. That’s the entire team.”
“I think our locker room’s pretty good right now. … I talked to a lot of guys one-on-one, whether it was last night or today. Guys seem to be alright. They’re in a good place.”
“Perine’s definitely going to get a bigger role,” Gase said. “Frank, he knows how many touches are the right amount for him. Getting Perine going is going to be critical for us. Then having two younger guys in Ty and Josh Adams available, we’ll get all these guys going.”
“For whatever reason, it didn’t work out,” Gase said, referring to the team’s decision to sign Bell. “We’re moving forward to Miami. That’s the No. 1 concern for us right now.”