Le'Veon Bell Says He'll Play This Year, Blames Jets' Play-Calling for Production Dip

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 28, 2021

Kansas City Chiefs running back Le'Veon Bell (26) runs off the field after the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)
AP Photo/Steve Luciano

Free-agent running back Le'Veon Bell said Thursday he's still planning to play during the 2021 NFL season and blamed the New York Jets for his drop in production in recent years.

"I'll sign somewhere when I'm ready...ain't no more finessing me with lies and s--t just to get me to sign with they team," Bell wrote on Twitter. "No more rushed decisions on my end, period."

The three-time Pro Bowl selection, who finished last season with the Kansas City Chiefs after getting released by the Jets in October, noted his lack of touches with New York during a back-and-forth conversation with fans about his play since leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I had more touches in 2017 for the Steelers than I had my entire time with the Jets...that's what I mean by 'opportunity,'" Bell wrote in response to one comment.

The 29-year-old Michigan State product, who added the Steelers "should've paid me what I wanted when they had the chance," remains confident in his ability.

"2021 will be the year y'all reminded," he said.

Bell averaged 129 yards from scrimmage and scored 48 touchdowns in 62 appearances across six years with the Steelers, who selected him in the second round of the 2013 draft.

The two-time First-Team All-Pro sat out the 2018 campaign after refusing to sign the one-year contract tender associated with the franchise tag, and he left to sign with the Jets as a free agent in 2019.

He averaged 83.3 yards from scrimmage in 15 games during his first year in New York and suffered a hamstring injury during Week 1 of the 2020 season, which landed him on injured reserve. He appeared in just one more game with the franchise before getting released.

Bell played a limited role for the star-studded Chiefs during the stretch run of last season, including just two carries during the team's playoff run to the Super Bowl.

He recorded 4.3 yards per carry during his time with the Steelers and 3.4 YPC since leaving Pittsburgh.

Bell was one of the NFL's most dynamic playmakers at his peak, but it's rare for a running back to maintain that level of performance as they approach and surpass the age of 30.

His track record could earn him another opportunity in 2021, but he'll likely be restricted to a one-year, prove-it deal given the downward trend in his statistical performance of late.