Le'Veon Bell's first season in New York didn't go as anyone planned, but that reality isn't driving desire to be elsewhere.
At least that's what Bell says.
"I wouldn't have signed here for four years if I didn't want to be here four years," Bell said Friday, via ESPN.
After sitting out in a year-long contract-related holdout with the Steelers, Bell cashed in with a four-year, $52 million deal with the Jets that included $27 million guaranteed and massive dead cap numbers of $25 millon and $17 million in the first two years. The contract is heavier on the back end, too, with $28.5 million of the cap hit coming in his final two years, but his dead cap number dropping sharply from $17 million to $4 million in 2021.
Essentially, the Jets and Bell are married for another season. He has no choice but to go to football counseling to work on this before contacting a divorce lawyer.
"I'm a guy that is extremely patient, not just on the field," Bell said. "I understand it takes a while to build a stable program. I'm here for it. It's what I want to do. I'm not saying I'm ecstatic about it. I'm not saying I'm down about it. I understand it's a process, getting things going in the right direction."
Things aren't exactly headed in the right direction for the Jets, who are 6-9 and out of the playoffs after spending substantially in free agency on Bell and linebacker C.J. Mosley. New York has picked up its play as of late, though, winning five of its last seven games after barely managing to crawl out of the gate in a 1-7 start.
As it often goes in New York, though, there seems to be more criticism of coach Adam Gase and the disorganized way the team went through free agency and the draft than about the potential for a second-year improvement. That's why folks are asking Bell if he wants to be around when it's been reported his coach didn't want him there in the first place.
Bell is also not performing up to his contract's expectation, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry (a full yard less than his career average of 4.3) behind a remade offensive line that has fallen well short of projections. He's added 425 receiving yards and just one touchdown through the air, resulting in a grand total of four trips to the end zone.
Bell said Friday that Gase "has been doing a great job of utilizing me and putting the ball in my hand. I'm not upset about it. We'll see where things go." But that type of production simply isn't who the Jets thought they were getting when they backed up the Brinks truck to his doorstep.
"When I did sign here, I didn't expect us to go 16-0, you know what I'm saying?" Bell said. "I knew it would be a process. I understand everything. We got a young quarterback, a whole group of guys coming in -- new offensive coordinators, head coaches. ... I understand what goes on. It's not like basketball. You can't take one or two guys and change a team."
No, you can't, and the Jets will need more impact players in the years ahead than they have now. Whether Bell is one of those remains to be seen, but with a contract like Bell's, he isn't going anywhere -- unless another team with tons of cap space feels inclined to take him on, and the Jets are willing to receive pennies on the dollar in return.