First asked if he thought the Jets overpaid for Bell, Gase meandered through an explanation, noting that disagreements happen all the time during the team-building process.
"We signed him. I'm excited we have him," Gase said when asked about the four-year, $52.5 million deal. "I've been in constant communication with him. Discussions happen. ... When you're going through free agency, we signed a lot of guys, you're trying to put together a big puzzle. You're trying to figure out money, fit, locker room, all those things. A lot of things go into all that stuff. Discussions are had, and whether or not, we disagreed on anything financially, that's a completely different story than the person or player.
"That's where a lot of this gets misconstrued. Le'Veon Bell is a great player. He's a good person. He's been in constant contact with me. I enjoyed my interaction with him when he was here, when he came on his visit for his physical, when we signed him, when he was here for the beginning of phase one. He texts me all the time. All that stuff you get on Instagram, I get it first. So, that's how I know what he's doing. So, he's been great with me as far as contact goes, making sure that I know what he's doing, where he's working out at, where he is, whatever part of the United States he's working out in. He does a lot of different things as far as who he's working with."
Peppered with persistent questions about Bell's contract during an uncomfortable, awkward press conference, Gase focused on the play-making ability the running back brings to his offense rather than the money paid.
"The contract was what it was," he said. "Everybody can criticize contracts all you want, but he's here. I'm excited he's here. I think our players are excited he's here. I know our coaches are. You get a chance to coach a great player, a guy that's done things that nobody's ever done in the league; we're excited for that opportunity. I'm excited to get him in the offense, so I can start figuring out what else can we do with him. What hasn't he done? What can he be great at in this system."
The new Gang Green head coach called speculation that the Jets could turn around and trade Bell "ridiculous."
"No. That's the first time I've heard of that," he said.
The terse back-and-forth with the New York media will likely not end the inquiries into the maneuverings that led to the firing of Maccagnan and Gase being put in power. But the coach noted, "If we win games, no one will remember this."
C.J. Mosley's free agent contract, which pays the linebacker an average of $17 million per year, was also a reported point of contention between Gase and Maccagnan. Mosley told reporters Thursday that "it doesn't matter. I'm here now" when asked about those reports.
Other notes from Gase's news conference Thursday:
Asked if he "stabbed Maccagnan in the back":
"That's not true. (Owner) Christopher (Johnson) made a decision."
Gase on his relationship with Maccagnan:
"It's irrelevant. All that is irrelevant. The decision was made and we're moving forward."
Gase on criticism he's been taking this week:
"That's fine. I'm paid to take all the bullets."
On next GM:
"They will have final say on personnel matters."
"I don't know, I don't really hang out with 'yes men'. If it's someone I already know then it's not going to be a 'yes man.'"
"I did the exact same thing I did in Miami."