During his peak with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Le’Veon Bell was one of the best running backs the NFL had to offer. In the five seasons he spent with the team, Bell would be named to the Pro Bowl team three times and the All-Pro team twice.
In a recent interview, Bell revealed that he chose to end his time with the Steelers for a “petty” reason. He was quoted as saying, “Yeah, it was a little petty, the little guarantee stuff, I’m thinking like, “D**n, could I have really just ate it?” Yeah, I probably could’ve, probably could’ve really ate it”.
Bell would end up being franchise tagged by the Steelers, and he took great offense to this. As he was one of the top running backs in the league at the time, he felt as if he had earned an extension to stay with the team. As a result, he would end up holding out and refusing to play through the 2018 season.
After hitting free agency after his holdout, he would end up receiving the deal that he thought he deserved with the New York Jets. However, once he left Pittsburgh, he would never be the same player.
In his first season with the Jets, Bell would fail to crack 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career since the 2015 season, in which he would only play six games. He would not make it through a second season with the Jets and would be released from the team after only two games in the 2020 season.
Bell would continue to attempt to regain his footing with the Chiefs. However, the team would fail to re-sign him after only ten games with the team. Heading into the 2021 season, Bell would join the Baltimore Ravens. However, he would be released again after only five games with the team.
In the final stop of his NFL career, Bell would join the Tom Brady led Tampa Bay Buccaneers. During his six-game stint with the team, he would only receive eight touches. After going unsigned in the 2022 season, all signs point to Tampa Bay being the last team that Bell will play for in his NFL career.
In an interview, Bell admitted that he regrets leaving Pittsburgh. He was quoted as saying, “No, I didn’t want to leave Pittsburgh. Because, at the end of the day, that’s where I was at”.
While hindsight is always 20/20, it is now very obvious that Bell’s career would have likely played out much better if he had stayed in Pittsburgh. Around this time, the Steelers had one of the top offensive lines in the league. Along with this, the pairing of Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown in the passing game left Bell without the weight of carrying an entire offense.
During his time with the Jets, he was the sole source of offense on the team. As a result of this, teams were able to stack the box and make it very difficult for Bell to find rushing lanes. Along with this, the Jets’ offensive line was far worse than Pittsburgh’s. While he may have made more money in his contract with the Jets, there is a strong chance that he could have played longer and made up the initial loss throughout the years with the Steelers.
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