On Tuesday, news broke that the New York Jets had decided to part ways with running back Le’Veon Bell.
The former All-Pro had spent five seasons terrorizing opposing defenses by gaining over 5,000 yards with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But after the Steelers had twice placed the franchise tag upon him, Bell decided to sit out the 2018 season.
In 2019, he signed a four-year deal with the Jets that was worth $52.5 million. But it was reported he never got along with Jets head coach Adam Gase — who was said to have opposed his signing — and through 17 starts with the Jets, he gained just 863 yards, while scoring only three touchdowns.
So now Bell is a free agent — and could literally sign anywhere he wants to play. Under his contract, the Jets will continue to pay him the balance of the $13 million he is owed in 2020 — plus another $4 million of salary guaranteed in 2021. So it’s possible that Bell could sign with a team for as little as an NFL-minimum salary for the balance of the year.
Speaking with the press on Thursday, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid (as is his habit) deflected all questions about Bell to general manager Brett Veach.
“Veach does all that,” said Reid. “I tell him, ‘If something happens, let me know.’ And then we roll.”
Reid’s answer was — as it always is in these kinds of situations — a bit tight-lipped. It’s inconceivable that Veach would sign a player without input from Reid. It also seems quite unlikely that Reid would be in the dark about where any negotiations with Bell might stand. But in fairness to Reid, he was more than happy to leave the general manager’s duties behind when he left the Philadelphia Eagles — and it’s understandable that he’d want to keep it that way.
But what’s most amusing about Reid’s reticence to discuss personnel matters is how it has now extended to his players. They may use social media to get teammates (and fans) worked up about the possibility of the team signing a free-agent star — but when reporters are present, there’s a company line to follow.
“I leave that stuff up to Veach and them,” quarterback Patrick Mahomes told reporters on Thursday. “Obviously a tremendous player — someone that can do it all: catch the ball, run the ball. But I just let Veach handle everything like that — and whoever’s in this locker room, make sure that they’re ready to go and make plays on Sundays.”
Bell is reported to be planning to make his decision on Thursday. Stay tuned.