The move comes less than halfway through a four-year, $52.5 million deal the Jets gave the 27-year-old in 2019 and included $27 million guaranteed.
Bell ran for 863 yards and three touchdowns while catching 69 passes for 500 yards and one score over 17 games with New York.
The team couldn't get to training camp last season before questions arose regarding Bell's long-term future in the Big Apple.
New York announced May 15 it fired general manager Mike Maccagnan and named Adam Gase as the acting GM until it found a permanent replacement.
Bell was already under contract by that point, and the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the Jets had some internal disagreement over whether to sign Bell in the first place:
Few thought New York would actually take the extreme step of trading the Michigan State product before he completed the 2019 season, though.
There's no way for the team to positively spin the fact it spent millions on signing the three-time Pro Bowler and ultimately received such a small return on its investment.
One could also argue Bell provided obvious value to the Jets offense, so Gase—regardless of what he thought about his contract—might have been better off making things work rather than jettisoning him. Without a dynamic receiver available, getting the best running back was a good way to find support for Sam Darnold.
Bell also represented a significant upgrade over Isaiah Crowell and Elijah McGuire, the Jets' top two rushers in 2018.
Now, New York is leaning on Frank Gore, who has 204 rushing yards and is averaging 3.2 yards per carry in 2020.
Mike Greenberg @Espngreeny
When Sam Darnold was diagnosed with mono the first thing I said was, the #Jets will trade Le’Veon Bell. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they do today. The coach obviously doesn’t have any idea how to use him. Let him go play for an offensive genius who actually has a clue.
Between giving huge deals to Bell and C.J. Mosley, firing the GM who finalized those contracts and now releasing Bell, the 2019 offseason couldn't have gone any worse for the Jets. The fanbase was cautiously optimistic with Darnold leading the rebuild, but now much of that positivity has vanished.