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Jets GM Joe Douglas: 'We Value' Le'Veon Bell Amid Adam Gase Comments

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IIIJanuary 6, 2020

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 30: Joe Douglas, Vice President of Player Personnel of the Philadelphia Eagles, looks on prior to the game against the New York Jets during the preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 30, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

New York Jets head coach Adam Gase told reporters to ask general manager Joe Douglas about Le'Veon Bell's future with the team when asked on Dec. 30 whether he wants the All-Pro running back to return in 2020.

Douglas commented during his appearance on ESPN's The Michael Kay Show on Monday.   

"We value Le'Veon Bell," Douglas said (h/t Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk). "We value the competitor. We value the teammate. We're excited [for him] being in our program another year, going through our offseason again."

The Michael Kay Show @TMKSESPN

ICYMI: Jets GM Joe Douglas joins the guys to discuss the futures of Jamal Adams and Le'Veon Bell. Plus, his thoughts on Sam Darnold's progress and the team's 6-2 finish. 🔊https://t.co/wFj2iAdFyl

Bell signed with the Jets on a four-year, $52.5 million contract as a free agent last March. 

Bell rushed for 789 yards and three touchdowns on 245 carries across 15 games in his first season as a Jet. The 27-year-old had surpassed 1,000 yards rushing in three of his five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2013-17, though he sat out all of 2018 due to a contract dispute. 

New York stumbled to a 7-9 record, and Bell wasn't entirely pleased with his role. 

"It's been a different season," Bell told reporters following the Jets' 13-6 win over the Buffalo Bills in their regular-season finale on Dec. 29. "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."

Further, ESPN's Rich Cimini reported that Ball and Gase "had a private conversation in the locker room" following the Bills game, in which Bell finished with 41 yards on 16 carries and only touched the ball five times in the second half (all late in the fourth quarter).

Manish Mehta @MMehtaNYDN

Jets had 19 consecutive plays against Buffalo (over four drives) without giving Le’Veon Bell a touch. A superior talent used so poorly this season. Story: https://t.co/yEPfEkuaat https://t.co/tJAXIniXUH

That would not seem as significant if Bell and Gase hadn't reportedly had similar conversations earlier in the season. 

Bell expressed frustration with his role after a Week 8 loss in Jacksonville. According to Cimini, he texted Gase "after the game and later vented his frustrations in a conversation with the coach." It was around the same time the Jets were reportedly shopping him prior to the Oct. 29 trade deadline:

UNINTERRUPTED @uninterrupted

.@LeVeonBell confirms the trade rumors and reveals which teams were involved, then weighs in on @TheAdamsEra on the newest episode of #17Weeks with @SiriusXM 🎙️ Listen: https://t.co/cr2DKQgAjM https://t.co/LRt8Vee4h8

"Yeah, I was frustrated, so I didn't want to be in front of the media and say something that everybody could run with," Bell told reporters at the time. "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."

Bell and Gase also clashed when the three-time Pro Bowler went bowling on Saturday, Dec. 7 despite being ruled out for a Dec. 8 game against the Miami Dolphins with an illness. Gase admitted he'd "rather him not be [bowling]," but Bell was not formally disciplined.

Even with all of this, Gase reminded everybody that he has supported Bell:

Jets Videos @snyjets

"I have all year" – Adam Gase reiterates that he supports Le'Veon Bell and has said so all season https://t.co/1ldsCqWD0p

Connor Hughes @Connor_J_Hughes

Gase has, on a near dozen occasions, got into great detail how much Bell means to this offense and how selfless Bell was to realize/accept the state of the offensive line, and abandon his previously-successful running style to better the team. https://t.co/BPIAq20kCM

Bell was still made uneasy by Gase dancing around committing to him next season:

Le'Veon Bell @LeVeonBell

https://t.co/csolpvucXt https://t.co/RFNcgQLjq5

But, as Gase said, Bell's standing with the team is ultimately up to Douglas. 

And it seems Douglas wants to give the running back another chance to show the organization why it invested so much in him. Plus, Bell's regression was not entirely his fault:

Adam Levitan @adamlevitan

Le'Veon Bell had 245 carries in 2019. His longest run went for 19 yards. https://t.co/vs1EIq1IbX

Rich Cimini @RichCimini

This is pretty mind-boggling: Le’Veon Bell gained 3.22 yards per rush for the season, the worst mark in Jets single-season history among players with at least 200 rushes. Wow. #Jets

Connor Hughes @Connor_J_Hughes

The #Jets started 11 different offensive linemen and nine different line combinations. Asked if that stunted some of Sam Darnold’s potential growth. Gase said it didn’t help. I’ve been told rebuilding OL is priority No. 1, 2 and 3 for #NYJ this offseason

The Jets will have the 11th overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft to address those issues.