Le'Veon Bell's first season in New York was clouded by consistent questions about his fit in Adam Gase's offense, and whether the coach wanted the running back.
Gase frequently rebutted negative reports, noting he thinks the former Pro Bowler remains one of the top running backs in the NFL and doesn't want to get rid of Bell.
Bell echoed the belief that all is well between the coach and player.
"We'll see how things go, obviously, in the offseason, but me and coach Gase had our exit meeting. It was fine, so we straight," Bell recently told TMZ Sports. "Everybody is blowing everything out of proportion. Water under the bridge -- we're fine. We good."
Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract in New York last offseason, under former general manager Mike Maccagnan. Bell said he plans to play out the remaining three years of the deal "unless something drastic changes."
As he is due $8.5 million in base salary, Bell and the Jets might be a forced marriage for one more season, so it behooves the sides to speak glowingly of one another, for now.
Bell is coming off his worst statistical season as a pro after sitting out all of 2018, setting a career-low in yards per carry (3.2) and tying his career-worst in touchdowns (three). The only season in which Bell had fewer than his 789 rushing yards was 2015 when he played just six games and compiled 556 yards.
It took Bell weeks to look right in 2019, but the issue in New York is more than that. The offensive line is not good and is an awful fit for his patient running style. Often, Bell waited for holes that never appeared. Then there is Gase, who, in hindsight, has proved to misuse running backs -- Kenyan Drake's explosion in Arizona being the most obvious example.
Whether Gase wanted Bell is irrelevant at this point. The question is, can the wedding work in 2020? Unless someone takes a massive risk by trading for Bell, which seems unlikely given the RB market these days, the two are stuck together for another year. Then in 2021, when the dead money on the deal drops significantly (from $19 million in 2020 to $4 million), we'll see if this marriage can make it through the long haul.