MIAMI BEACH — Bilal Powell will be a free agent, but the running back hopes he doesn’t have to change teams.
“I want to retire a Jet,” he said Thursday. “I’ve been there nine years now. To finish out my career there, my family and I are real familiar with the area, our kids are familiar with everyone. I would love to retire a Jet.”
Powell, 31, who has spent his entire career with the Jets, said he received “positive feedback” from general manager Joe Douglas and coach Adam Gase during his exit interview but wouldn’t offer much more than that.
Powell had a surprisingly productive season after returning from what was considered a career-threatening neck injury. He rushed for 229 yards on 59 carries as Le’Veon Bell’s backup, including 19 carries for 74 yards in one start when Bell was out with the flu.
“I would have liked to play a little more,” Powell said. “But Le’Veon is a good running back. I came off a serious injury. One of my biggest goals was to show some production with my time when my number was called. I came out healthy. I’m just looking forward to 2020.”
Powell, who was making the rounds at Radio Row at the Miami Beach Convention Center, believes the Jets are close to turning things around. He pointed to how they played during their 6-2 stretch to end the season and said Sam Darnold is poised to make a big leap in his second season in Gase’s system.
“Right now, it’s set up perfectly,” Powell said. “I think Adam’s offense fits Sam. You’re going to see a big jump from this year to next year with Sam being in this offense for two years. I think he’ll be a lot more precise, more comfortable with the offense.”
Powell has been reluctant to speak about the neck injury he suffered against the Vikings in Week 7 in 2018 that could have ended his career. He was cleared to return to football in May, and the Jets re-signed him last June. Powell said it meant something to finish the season healthy after what he went through.
“Most definitely,” he said. “When you get comfortable with certain things, you start to get comfortable with certain things. The injury has really allowed me to appreciate every minute and every moment that you walk through the facility doors and have a job to do, something that you’ve been doing your entire life.”
Powell hopes to continue doing it as a Jet.