2019 NFL Free Agency: Le'Veon Bell 'so happy where I stand' despite potentially losing millions by sitting out
Bell signed with the Jets this week after turning down a bigger contract offer from the Steelers last offseason
Thirteen months ago, when it seemed like Le'Veon Bell and the Steelers would eventually work out a long-term deal, the running back, in response to a Jets fan who offered $60 million to come play in New York, tweeted "that ain't enough to come run with the Jets."
We mention this because earlier this week Bell, who ended up sitting out the 2018 season, signed a four-year, $52.5 million deal ... with the Jets.
"Today, I woke up feeling amazing," Bell said during a Thursday conference call, according to the Associated Press. "So I'm happy with where I stand."
Where Bell stands, as CBSSports.com's John Breech notes, is potentially $19 million lighter in the wallet than he would've been had he signed with the Steelers before the 2018 season.
"The Jets were kind of the team I had in the back of my mind where I wanted to go," Bell explained. "So, you know, once the numbers made sense to me, it wasn't really a hard decision. I made the decision, and I'm happy with the decision I made."
So does Bell have any regrets?
"The decision I made is the decision I would do all over again," he 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 there and play on a one-year franchise tag and I do get hurt, do I end up in this position today, being with the New York Jets on a beautiful deal?
"Even on the other side of it, 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, who's to say what team is going to take me after another 400 carries? So, like I said, I've contemplated everything I've done. … I don't regret one thing. I'm happy where I'm at and the decision I made and I'm glad I'm here."
And that was Bell's point back in the summer; he didn't want to play on the $14.5 million franchise tender and in the process have the Steelers run the wheels off him. Of course, if he had signed Pittsburgh's long-term offer -- which would've paid $20.5 million guaranteed in Year 1, $33 million total over two years, and $45 million total over three years -- there would be fewer concerns about injury and overuse.
Instead, Bell sat out the season and by December he said his body felt the best it had since he started playing football. The expectation was that he'd earn back the $14.5 million he lost by not playing in 2018 and reset the running back market. Instead, that market never materialized and he's now the second-highest-paid back after Todd Gurley. According to ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler, who spoke to Bell this week, there was some interest from other teams; Antonio Brown and Derek Carr recruited Bell hard, and the 49ers offered $38 million over three years and it was "just about fully guaranteed."
Bell was tempted by San Francisco's offer but knew by the combine that he wanted to go to the Jets. As for shooting down that fan who wanted him to come to the Jets for $60 million last offseason, Bell can explain that too.
"I mean, that was just me being on Twitter and TMZ talking," Bell said. "That's all that was. The situation I'm in right now, I wouldn't change it for anything in the world."
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