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Jets release Le'Veon Bell after exploring trade options for disgruntled running back

Le'Veon Bell of the Jets runs the ball

Le'Veon Bell of the Jets runs the ball in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 11, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Le’Veon Bell was targeted for the last time in Adam Gase’s offense.

The Jets released the disgruntled running back, ending Bell’s disappointing 17-game run in green and white. The Jets made the stunning announcement Tuesday night after efforts to trade Bell came up empty.

"After having conversations with Le’Veon and his agent and exploring potential trade options over the past couple of days, we have made the decision to release Le’Veon," general manager Joe Douglas said in a statement Tuesday night. "We believe this decision is in the best interests of both parties and wish him future success."

Seconds before the announcement, Bell tweeted out folded hands emoji, meaning thank you. He later tweeted a picture of himself in a black shirt and wrote, "got a lot to prove. i’m ready to go."

News broke in the afternoon that the Jets were trying to move Bell, which came as no surprise to anyone. Bell and Gase were at odds – again – over the running back’s usage.

The Jets, according to a league source, also granted permission to Bell’s agent to seek a trade for his client. Neither the Jets nor Bell’s agent found any takers.

The source said the Jets were willing to pay a portion of the $6 million remaining on Bell’s salary this year. But teams wouldn’t sign off because of the $8 million injury guarantee in Bell’s contract for next year.

The trade deadline isn’t until Nov. 3, so the Jets had plenty of time to continue to pursue a deal. But they decided after going down the path they had, they were better off cutting ties with the three-time Pro Bowl back, and that it would be better for everyone involved to move forward.

Veteran Frank Gore and rookie La’Mical Perine will be the running backs when the Jets play the Dolphins on Sunday. Perine didn’t play an offensive snap in the previous game against Arizona, but he should be prominently featured going forward for this winless team.

Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract in 2019. He will pocket $28 million in guaranteed money. The remaining two years weren't guaranteed.

For that $28 million, Bell averaged 80.7 scrimmage yards with four touchdowns in 17 games. This season he had 19 carries for 74 yards and caught three passes for 39 in two games.

Bell looked nothing like the dynamic star he was in Pittsburgh for a variety of reasons. But it was abundantly clear that Bell and Gase were not a good mix. Douglas also tried to trade Bell last season.

They got to the point in which they couldn’t co-exist, and the Jets wanted to move from Bell before returning to practice on Wednesday.

This doesn’t reflect well on Gase, who also is on borrowed time as Jets coach. They are 0-5 and have the worst offense in the NFL.

Gase also couldn’t get along with his most accomplished player. Before the Jets traded Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, he also took shots at Gase. As coach of the Dolphins, Gase also had differences with his star receiver, Jarvis Landry, and running back Kenyan Drake.

The latest discord started Sunday when Bell returned from a three-game stint on IR. He had 14 touches for 67 yards in the Jets’ 30-10 loss to Arizona. Bell was targeted only once in the passing game, and finished with one catch for 7 yards.

Afterward, Bell refused to speak to the media. But he ‘Liked’ several tweets that referenced the lack of targets or suggested the Jets should trade him because Gase doesn’t utilize him properly.

Gase was displeased that Bell decided to do that on social media instead of coming to talk to him.

"I hate that that’s the route we go with all this instead of just talking to me about it," Gase said Monday afternoon. "Seems it’s the way guys want to do it now a days."

In that same call, Gase was asked if the Jets would be open to trading Bell. Gase didn’t say no. Bell also refused to speak to reporters on Monday.

The Bell-Gase relationship was rocky from the beginning.

Former general manager Mike Maccagnan signed Bell. Gase wasn’t entirely on board. He thought the money they spent on Bell could have been spent to shore up other positions.

Gase and Bell publicly have said their relationship is great. It wasn’t. The two had some philosophical differences over how Bell was used or how many touches he received last year,

This also wasn’t the first time Gase and Bell have had issues that made its way on Twitter.

Gase removed Bell from a scrimmage after a trainer told him Bell had tightness in his hamstring. Not long after Gase told reporters what happened, Bell tweeted that his hamstring was fine and went on a little rant.

At the time, Gase said he wished Bell would come to come to him instead of social media. The two met and said they had an understanding. Bell called it "a miscommunication."

There will be no more miscommunications between Gase and Bell.

New York Sports