Avery Williamson and Frank Gore had the same reaction as most fans when the news broke that the Jets were releasing Le’Veon Bell.
“Nobody’s safe,” was Williamson’s take on the move.
The winless Jets attempted to move the disgruntled Bell on Monday and Tuesday, but could find no takers, so they released him Tuesday night, ending a rocky marriage and opening up an opportunity for rookie running back La’Mical Perine, alongside Gore.
In March 2019, Bell agreed to a four-year, $52.5 million contract. He played just 17 games and earned $27.5 million of that deal. He produced little, scoring four touchdowns and running for 863 yards. In his first game back after going on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury, Bell managed just 67 total yards on 14 touches in Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals. The 28-year-old, three-time Pro Bowler let the Jets know he was unhappy with how he was being used and shared those feelings on social media.
“I was surprised,” Gore, the team’s de facto starting running back now, said. “I thought he had a good game on Sunday. I don’t know what happened. … I had a good time competing with him when he was here. [He’s] a hard-working dude.”
Most Jets have described their time with Bell in a similar vein. Williamson, an inside linebacker, and Perine had nothing but positive adjectives to describe Bell on Thursday. But they were still caught off guard by how quickly it all happened.
“I was very shocked,” Williamson said. “Good dude, man. I like Le’Veon.
“It’s a production business, and they’re trying to win,” he added. “I feel like always you got to be on point with everything. It’s one of those things. It can happen to anybody, honestly.”
Bell is unlikely to be unemployed long. The Dolphins, Bills and Chiefs — the Jets’ next three opponents — are all in the mix to land him, ESPN reported.
“Just hoping for the best for him,” Williamson said.