Not since Curtis Martin have the Jets had a running back that they can be as excited about as new free agency workhorse back Le’Veon Bell.
Bell’s arrival in New York means a complete shift at the running back spot, a position that has been an issue for the team for a long time.
That all should change in 2019 with the arrival of Bell, who a lot of people nationally are mocking because of the amount of money he did NOT get in his free agent deal, one that will pay him $52.5 million over the last four seasons.
Instead, Bell is happy to have the free agent process, the first he’s dealt with in his career, behind him, and he’s ready to have as big of an impact with his new team as he’s had the last six seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“In all reality, the Jets were the team that I had in the back of my mind, where I wanted to go,” Bell said on a Thursday conference call with the Jets media.
“So once the numbers made sense to me, it wasn’t really a hard decision. And I made the decision and I’m happy with the decision I made. [Thursday] I woke up feeling amazing, so I’m happy where I stand.”
Bell combined with second-year quarterback Sam Darnold should make for an interesting pair moving forward for the Jets, as they look to build an offense that can make some noise moving forward.
“That’s a part of it,” Bell said of his new young QB in Darnold.
“Seeing a guy like him, so young and so talented and knowing, maybe he needs another weapon — you never know what he can do with another weapon. He’s such a talented young guy. So he definitely was a valuable reason that I chose to come here.”
Bell has a lot to prove to people who were critical of the fact he sat out all of last season, forgoing a salary that would have paid him $14.5 million as he had the franchise tag placed on him by the Steelers.
He says that despite getting blasted by many, he would not have changed how he handled anything last season.
“The decision I made is the decision I would do all over again,” Bell said.
“I don’t regret anything that happened. Everything has happened for a reason up until this point. Who’s to say if I played last year, if I do go out and play one a one-year franchise tag, if I do get hurt, do I end up in this position today, being with the New York Jets on a beautiful deal?
“On the other side of it, if I go out there and play on the franchise tag and I get another 400 [touches] … and I come out of the season healthy, who’s to say what team is going to take me after another 400 [touches]? So, like I said, I’ve contemplated on everything I’ve done. … I don’t regret one thing. I’m happy where I’m at and the decision I made.”
Bell will get plenty of chances to prove his worth with the Jets, and if he can produce, many of those that are blasting him now will quickly go quiet once the 2019 season gets underway.