Le’Veon Bell‘s first season in New York hasn’t gone as planned. After sitting out the 2018 season, the running back’s return to the NFL has been underwhelming, as he’s compiled only 508 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 161 carries (good for a career-low 3.2 yards per carry). The Jets are also sitting at 3-7, meaning Bell will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since his rookie campaign.
Making matters worse, there have been whispers that some in the Jets organization would rather use Bell’s money elsewhere. The 27-year-old inked a lucrative four-year, $52.5MM deal with New York this offseason, but subsequent reports indicated that head coach Adam Gase wasn’t in favor of paying a running back that kind of money. Following the firing of general manger Mike Maccagnan, the team brought in Joe Douglas, who also wouldn’t have been in favor in that kind of investment.
After ditching Pittsburgh in pursuit of an organization that valued him on the field and via a paycheck, Bell now finds himself with career-worst numbers, a struggling team, and trade rumors. Through it all, the veteran has been a respected member of the locker room, and he’s generally spoken words of encouragement instead of criticism.
Bell took the same approach in a recent interview with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, although he discussed some player-movement topics that he’s generally avoided throughout the season. While the entire interview is worth a read, we snagged some of the notable soundbites below:
On choosing to sign with the New York Jets:
“I made a decision. And I’ll live with it.”
On his lack of production and whether he would have put up superior numbers on a playoff contender:
“I feel like when I get those numbers here, people are going to look at me differently. Like, dang, he didn’t even have to go to the Chiefs. He didn’t have to go to the Colts or whatever team has a high-powered offense. I didn’t have to go there to do it. I came here and helped this team turn around.”
On whether he thought of restructuring his current contract to help facilitate a trade to a contender:
“It depends on the (financial) situation. You know what I’m saying? I had sat out a whole year… I’m not so much worried about the (Average Per Year). Everybody cares about the APY… So, when you say taking a pay cut, it depends on what you’re talking about.”
On the perception that he can no longer be as productive as he was in Pittsburgh:
“A lot of people will take the first hole they see. I don’t. I’ll take the best hole I see. Some people see the first hole and they try to hit it. They might end up breaking through and getting those 12 yards. Or the D-tackle might rip off and get a tackle for no gain. With me, I’m going to be consistent. I might not get 12 yards, but I’m going to make sure I get seven. The next time, it’s going to be that same situation and I’m going to get seven again.”
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.