Le’Veon Bell’s tenure with the Jets was brief, unproductive and unfulfilling — and, as of Tuesday night, it was also over. The Jets released Bell, their marquee free-agent signing from 2019, not even halfway through his four-year, $52.5 million contract, officially terminating a tumultuous relationship that had been steaming toward a breakup.
Bell, who spent three weeks on injured reserve after pulling a hamstring in the Jets’ season-opening loss at Buffalo, received 22 touches in two games. Apparently displeased by his use in an offense that did not maximize his pass-catching skills, he took to social media after the Jets’ 30-10 loss against Arizona on Sunday, which dropped them to an 0-5 record, and liked tweets advocating he be traded.
“I mean, I hate that’s the route that we go with all this,” Coach Adam Gase said on Monday, signaling his disappointment in Bell. “Instead of just talking to me about it but seems the way that guys want to do it nowadays.”
Unable to find any takers, the Jets cut him Tuesday, making him a free agent. Soon after, Bell posted on Twitter an emoji of folded hands, and after, one that read: “Got a lot to prove. I’m ready to go.”
In a statement, General Manager Joe Douglas, who was not a part of the organization when Bell signed, said the organization appreciated Bell’s contributions but that it believed “this decision is in the best interests of both parties and wish him future success.”
Across his first five seasons, all with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell, 28, blossomed into one of the N.F.L.’s best running backs, parlaying his combination of balance, patience and acceleration into three Pro Bowl and two first-team All-Pro selections. But he sat out the 2018 season because of a contract dispute, unwilling to play again on a franchise tag.
The Jets pounced, giving him $25 million guaranteed. In return, he gave them an average of 3.27 yards per carry and four total touchdowns in 17 games, and now he is gone.