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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Report: Jets felt Le’Veon Bell gained weight, lost explosiveness

LeVeon Bell

Le’Veon Bell said all the right things in his first season with the New York Jets despite numerous reports that he was not getting along with head coach Adam Gase, but was the star running back doing everything possible to put himself in the best position to succeed?

The Jets have admitted they will listen if teams inquire about trading for Bell this offseason, but it seems unlikely that there will be much interest with Bell entering only the second year of a four-year, $52.5 million contract. Aside from the money, there may be some concern about the condition Bell was in last season. According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, the Jets felt Bell gained too much weight and lost some of his explosiveness down the stretch in 2019.

Bell was never really a consistent part of Adam Gase’s offense, and you have to wonder if his conditioning issues — whether real or perceived — played a role in that. He also dealt with a bout of the flu late in the season and said he lost 10 pounds, which factored into his explanation for why he went out bowling when he was deemed not healthy enough to play one week. That could have also been a factor in his lack of explosiveness, though Cimini said there were concerns about Bell packing on pounds rather than shedding them.

Bell had just 789 rushing yards and three touchdowns in his first season with the Jets. Gase refused to funnel his offense through the star back, and there were reports before the season that Gase never wanted to sign Bell in the first place. Bell recently downplayed any issues he may have had with his head coach and said he expects to remain with the Jets in 2020.

If the Jets can’t trade Bell, both he and Gase will need to put their egos aside and find a way to coexist next season. Bell was one of the biggest difference-makers in football during his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that is why New York paid him so much money. The talent is obviously there, and it’s up to Gase to find more effective ways to utilize it.

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