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."
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).
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:
"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:
Bell was still made uneasy by Gase dancing around committing to him next season:
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:
The Jets will have the 11th overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft to address those issues.