Le'Veon Bell's short tenure with the New York Jets has been somewhat rocky. Coming off a year's absence after refusing to play under the franchise tag for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell signed a $52.5 million deal with the New York Jets to be Sam Darnold's running mate and presumably a central piece of head coach Adam Gase's offense.
The first year didn't go so well. Bell didn't look like the same player he was in Pittsburgh and he was not helped by a rash of injuries to the offensive line and Darnold missing most of the season. Matters were only made worse when news leaked before the season even began that Gase was not the biggest fan of Bell's signing.
There hasn't been much reporting of conflict brewing between the two, but Bell was rather active on social media yesterday about the fact that he's gotten very few reps in training camp so far. Bell has a lengthy history of injuries so it's defensible from a certain angle, but giving the lion's share of carries to AARP member Frank Gore in a summer with no preseason games and less practices than normal is certainly a decision. Bell seems to think so, at least, after he refuted a report from a team employee that he was out due to hamstring tightness and said he needs to practice to play well in games.
It would be reading into the situation a little much to declare a divide between Bell and Gase, but it doesn't seem like a good sign that Bell is complaining on Twitter.
Then Thursday brought news that surely will not help the relationship between the two, as Ian Rapoport broke the news that the Jets swooped in to trade for Kalen Ballage, the Miami Dolphins running back on the verge of being released.
To summarize, after holding Bell back in practice for what appears to be most of the summer from Jets reporters, and the day after he complains about it, the Jets... trade for another running back. And not just a regular ol' trade, but a trade for a player who was supposed to be released. They didn't want to risk another team getting him, they wanted him so badly.
To add even more intrigue to the situation, Gase was the head coach of the Dolphins the year they drafted Ballage. Which means he likes the player, probably a lot if he successfully lobbied management to trade for him instead of risking the waiver wire. If he was taking away carries from Bell to give to Gore, what is he going to do with a player he was at least partially responsible for drafting?
All is well and good for now, but given how things are lining up, I don't think it would be a surprise to anybody if the cracks began to show between Bell and his team. At this point, it only feels like a matter a time.