The Jets released Bell on Tuesday, less than two years into the four-year, $52.5 million contract he signed in March 2019. The $28 million he earned in 17 games with New York is nearly double the $16.2 million he earned as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers over five seasons.
Bell was a key cog in the Steelers' offense from 2013-2017, earning first-team All-Pro honors in 2014 and 2017 while tallying more than 1,200 yards rushing three times. After his second All-Pro season, Bell sat out the entire 2018 campaign due to a contract dispute with Pittsburgh.
The Steelers handed off to Bell a career-high 321 times in 2017, and the tailback was looking to sign an extension before becoming a free agent following the 2018 season. When Pittsburgh instead franchise-tagged him, Bell elected to remain on the sidelines rather than risk his health in a contract year.
From a financial standpoint, there's no question the decision made sense. The Jets gave Bell a four-year, $52.5 million contract with $35 million guaranteed and a maximum value of $61 million overall, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
He didn't come close to justifying that contract, though. Across the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Bell carried the ball 264 times for 863 yards and three touchdowns to go with 500 receiving yards and one touchdown.
Spotrac.com puts Bell's career estimated earnings at nearly $44.1 million. That number could jump up again in the near future if Bell signs elsewhere as a free agent.