The New York Jets announced Tuesday that they have released running back Le’Veon Bell, ending his 19-month stint with the organization just five games into the team’s turbulent 2020 season.
“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,” read the Jets’ official statement, as quoted by ESPN.
“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.”
According to ESPN, Bell’s time with the Jets had been marked by “disappointment and broken promises” as he failed to adapt to head coach Adam Gase’s system. The publication cited a source that claimed the 28-year-old had a meeting with Gase and general manager Joe Douglas on Monday and was informed that the organization will speak with other teams while exploring the possibility of a midseason trade.
Despite New York’s best efforts, Bell’s contract reportedly made him “difficult to move.” The main “sticking point,” as noted, was the two-time All-Pro selection’s $8 million injury guarantee for the 2021 season. According to a source, none of the organizations wanted to take such a risk due to concerns that the running back might suffer a serious injury in the 2020 campaign.
In addition, ESPN wrote that the Jets had the option to keep looking for suitors until the November 3 trade deadline and seeing if they could secure a late-round pick in exchange for Bell. However, it appeared that the franchise also found his guarantee too risky, especially considering the original plan to cut him at the end of the season.
Shortly after Bell’s release was confirmed, the former Pittsburgh Steelers star took to Twitter to react to the news, simply sharing a praying-hands emoji.
Since signing a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets last year, Bell rushed for just three touchdowns and 863 yards, with an average of 3.3 yards per carry in 17 games. As shown on his Pro-Football-Reference page, these numbers pale in comparison to what he put up in Pittsburgh, where he registered more than 1,000 rushing yards in three of his five seasons with the Steelers.
Bell wasn’t the only key offensive player who had been struggling amid the Jets’ 0-5 start to the 2020 campaign. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, former No. 3 overall selection Sam Darnold had a similarly rough first few games at quarterback before suffering a shoulder injury ahead of the team’s Week 5 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.