Now with the Jets, a shiny new contract in his back pocket, Bell still has his old team in mind and a chip upon his shoulder.
"I'm thinking I'm going to show everybody," Bell said via USA TODAY's Lorenzo Reyes. "I'm going to show people that, look, Pittsburgh had something special and they let it go. That's what I'm going to go out there and do."
While Bell's 2018 season-long absence in hopes of a better contract didn't lead to the friendliest parting of ways with the Steelers, it's important to note the standout running back has delighted fans and confounded defenses with a chip on his shoulder for the duration of his playing days.
"Even before I got to Pittsburgh, you always got to look somewhere to find that chip on your shoulder for motivation," Bell said. "So when I got to Pittsburgh, I used that from the draft. I remember all the teams that passed on me. 'I'm going to make you regret it.' Then I got to Pittsburgh and we had the whole contract thing that happened. It didn't work out in Pittsburgh. I'm out of Pittsburgh. And now I'm in a new city, a new team, and a lot of people haven't even given us a chance cause they don't like our roster. They think we don't have the talent."
And so it would seem the same Steelers who provided him a vehicle to display his talents and prove other NFL squads wrong have now motivated him once more.
Pittsburgh saddled Bell with the franchise tag ahead of 2018 for a second straight year.
That sparked the running back's holdout, which carried on through a tumultuous 2018 campaign for Pittsburgh.
Eventually Bell, 27, became a free agent in February after Pittsburgh declined to franchise him again.
"I would do everything the same," Bell said. "I wouldn't change a thing."
Absent through the preseason, Bell will see live action for the first time since the Steelers' playoff loss to Jacksonville on Jan. 14, 2018.
Bell's return will be one of the prevailing Week 1 storylines, as fans and media alike tune in to see how well he acclimates himself to a new team, a new offense and all that time away.
While those quandaries will need to be answered, the dual-threat back certainly isn't lacking motivation.