Adam Gase predictably denied that he had a problem with the decision to sign Le’Veon Bell this offseason. The new ruler on One Jets Drive also said that it was “ridiculous” to suggest that the perennial Pro Bowl running back could be traded before the start of the season.
Strip away the propaganda and half-truths and here’s what’s left: Gase didn’t want Bell, because he believes he can thrive in the backfield with an assortment of backs, according to sources. Once Gase realized that he wouldn’t be able to sway Christopher Johnson and Mike Maccagnan that Bell wasn’t needed in his offense, the coach pivoted and made it clear that he didn’t want to pay big money for any running back.
“We signed him,” Gase said Thursday in his first press conference since taking over as the team’s interim general manager in the wake of Maccagnan’s ouster. “I’m excited we have him. I’ve been in constant communication with him.”
“Whether or not we disagreed on anything … financially, that’s a completely different story than the person or the player,” Gase added. “That’s where a lot of this gets misconstrued. Le’Veon Bell is a great player. He’s a good person. I’ve been in constant contact with him. I’ve enjoyed my interaction with him when he was here.”
Give Gase credit: He is a master salesman, who does an excellent job communicating one-on-one with players.
The coach said that Bell, who has skipped the bulk of voluntary offseason workouts, “texts me all the time” to keep him up to speed on his training regimen.
“He’s been great with me as far as contact goes,” said Gase, who revealed earlier this offseason that Bell told him that he’ll be at the team’s mandatory three-day minicamp in a couple weeks. “Making sure that I know what he’s doing, where he’s working out at, whatever part of the United States he’s working out in. ... He does a lot of different things as far as who he’s working with.”
Gase maintained that he doesn’t believe that the Jets overpaid for Bell, who signed a four-year, $52.5 million deal (which is effectively a two-year, $28 million deal).
“The contract was what it was,” Gase said. “You can overpay ... Everybody can criticize contracts all you want, but he’s here. I’m excited he’s here. I think our players are excited he’s here. I know our coaches are. You get a chance to coach a great player, a guy that’s done things that nobody’s ever done in the league. We’re excited for that opportunity. I’m excited to get him in the offense, so I can start to figure out what else I can do with him. What hasn’t he done? What can he be great at in this system?”
Gase privately wasn’t pleased with Bell’s decision not to participate in the voluntary on-field work, but there’s no real recourse.
He’s right about this: Le’Veon Bell is a tremendous player, who should be the heartbeat of Gang Green’s offense if used properly.