First-year head coach Adam Gase declined to address whether he wanted the two-time All-Pro running back to return as the starter next season:
Those comments caught Bell's attention:
According to ESPN's Rich Cimini, Bell and Gase "had a private conversation in the locker room" following Sunday's game after the 27-year-old tallied 41 yards on 16 carries and did not touch the ball for majority of the second half.
"It's been a different season," Bell told reporters. "That's all you can say about it."
Bell added: "I didn't break 1,000 yards. It's disappointing. Obviously, that's a marker that every running back kind of [aspires to]—1,000 yards. It didn't happen this year. I have to work harder and get better for next year."
Le'Veon Bell @LeVeonBell
Blessed for another year. I want to thank Jets fans for embracing me all season. I put everything into every snap this season & hope you all are proud of how I repped the Green & White. Things didn’t go as planned for many reasons, but can’t wait to get working & keep moving fwd. https://t.co/Y2Uxg75fQw
Bell, who signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets in March, finished this season with his lowest marks since 2015, recording 789 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 245 attempts. He sat out all of 2018 amid a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers after spending the first five years of his career with the organization, which selected him in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft.
Bell surpassed 1,000 rushing yards in three of his five seasons played in Pittsburgh.
His regression in New York could at least in part be attributed to an inconsistent offensive line:
Bell also made headlines away from the field. He was ruled out for the Jets' Week 14 matchup with the Miami Dolphins because of an illness; however, the three-time Pro Bowler went bowling the night before New York's 22-21 win.
"I'd rather him not be [bowling]," Gase told reporters. "I'd rather him be at home just getting better. That will be a conversation we'll have."
Bell was not formally disciplined and joked about the situation:
Cimini read between the lines: "Clearly, he's not happy with his role. He didn't directly criticize Adam Gase—Bell knows how to walk the fine line—but he let it be known he wants more touches. This storyline will continue into the offseason. Prediction: He gets traded."
"Yeah, I was frustrated, so I didn't want to be in front of the media and say something that everybody could run with. I was frustrated. We lost the game and I didn't feel like I was involved. Plus, I feel like that was a game we kind of let go. I didn't want to say anything I would regret because I was angry at the time."
Gase's latest press conference could cause further speculation regarding Bell's future in New York. The Jets reportedly floated his name ahead of the Oct. 29 trade deadline:
If Bell's contract was indeed the reason Gang Green didn't trade him, that obstacle is not going away:
Gase and the Jets have plenty of issues outside of Bell's uncertain future. New York finished 7-9 and notched its fourth straight season with a losing record. It has not made the postseason since 2010.