New Jets running back Le’Veon Bell’s introductory conference call Thursday night can be summed up in six words: He’s ready to kick some ass.
The 27-year-old superstar made it clear that he doesn’t regret sitting out the entire season after turning down a multi-year offer from the Steelers and playing on the $14.5 million franchise tag.
“I don’t regret anything that happened,” Bell said. “Obviously everything has happened for a reason up until this point. But who’s to say if I played last year, if I do go out there and play on a one-year franchise tag, if I do get hurt, do I end up sitting in this position today being with the New York Jets on a beautiful deal?”
Bell agreed to a four-year, $52.5 million deal with Gang Green after passing up a more lucrative deal from Pittsburgh last summer. He also opted not to play on the franchise tag due to concerns about adding more mileage to his body for a team that would ultimately let him walk after the season.
“If I go out there and… play on the franchise tag and I get another 400 carries and I come out of the season healthy,” Bell said, “Who’s to say that a team will (sign me after getting) another 400 carries? I’ve contemplated on everything I’ve done. I know it’s past. I know everything that’s happened to this point. And I don’t regret one thing. I’m happy where I’m at and the decision I’ve made and I’m glad to be here.”
Bell said that he always believed that he’d wind up in green-and-white.
"In all reality, the Jets were the team that I had in the back of my mind where I wanted to go,” he said. “Once the numbers made sense to me, it wasn't really a hard decision. I’m happy with the decision I made. Today, I woke up feeling amazing. So, I'm happy where I stand."
"I grew up a Curtis Martin fan... loving the NY Jets.” Bell later added. “When the season ended, all the stars aligned to the Jets…. They needed the running back… In my head, that's where I wanted to go unless something crazy happened to force me not to go…. I'm glad we made it happen and everything worked out. I'm happy, they're happy."
The two-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler said that his body feels refreshed after taking more than a year off following the 2017 season.
“It sucked having to watch (others) play football,” Bell said. “But at the end of December and through January and February, it’s the best my body’s literally ever felt in my life. There’s nothing that even comes close to how I feel. Just resting and letting my body heal… after a season I played (in 2017) and after another full season, my body got so much rest. I got so much built up in me. It’s time to let go. This is the best that I’ve literally ever felt in my life that I can remember.”
There were rumblings across the league that Bell let himself go at some point during his year-long hiatus. Bell conceded that he’s not currently in football shape, but isn’t overly concerned given all the time between now and the start of the season in September. He said he’ll use offseason workouts and the summer to make sure he’s right by the regular season. He’s been working out five times a week since the end of December.