Here’s the move you’ve been waiting for, Jets fans. After a year that’s seen the franchise’s future spiral swiftly down the toilet, again, and five weeks that have made clear the need for drastic action, the Jets addressed their most urgent problem Tuesday night and fir—ah, no, sorry, actually it appears they cut Le’Veon Bell.
The Jets are bad at football but uniquely good at traipsing their way into revealing public embarrassments, Bell’s short and underwhelming tenure now among them. After his year-long holdout in Pittsburgh, the then-star running back joined the Jets in free agency in the spring of 2019 on a $52.5 million deal, of which $27 million was guaranteed. Last season, he looked pretty abysmal, due in no small part to his playing for the New York Jets. Bell scarcely touched the ball, and when he did, the Jets’ offensive line helped open just enough running room for him to average a career-worst 3.22 yards per carry.
In a Week 1 loss to the Bills this season, Bell suffered a hamstring injury (already a bone of contention between him and head coach Adam Gase) and spent three weeks on IR before returning to get just 13 rushing attempts and one passing target for a total of 67 yards in the Jets’ Week 5 loss to the Cardinals. (In 17 games with the Jets, Bell never even recorded a single 100-yard game.) Understandably fed up with what became an 0-5 team on Sunday but has spiritually been an 0-5 team for his entire tenure, Bell spent the evening liking tweets that said he deserved better than his low usage and should be traded. In a statement Tuesday night, GM Joe Douglas said the team had looked into trade options, but had decided to release him. Bell did not seem especially broken up about the whole thing.
Remaining fans of the Jets aside, few tears were shed here. Adam Gase reportedly wasn’t a vocal supporter of the signing back when it happened. Here's Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer in May of 2019:
In the process, Gase informed others in the building that he didn’t want Bell, but said that, if Bell signed, he’d be fine coaching him. Fair or not, some saw that as Gase distancing himself from the decision, while lining himself up for credit if it worked, in large part because that matched up with his reputation in Miami.
Maybe that's a canny political strategy in theory, but "Gase distancing himself from the decision" doesn't seem to have worked out well for his relationship with Bell or for the team's performance. The Jets organization is so transparently a disaster that here even NFL fans can't be relied on to believe an ineffective player's being cut is his own fault. Gase doesn't come across wise or prophetic in this situation, just kind of useless and miserable. He is lucky, though, to be in the employ of people who may just be dumb enough to buy what he's selling.
As for Bell, the Jamal Adams-Robby Anderson postulate dictates that any player who escapes the Jets this year will enjoy bountiful and immediate success elsewhere as reward for his suffering. Let him sign with the Chiefs or Titans and rush in his glorious debut for one thousand yards.