Le'Veon Bell made a unique decision to bet on himself and sit out the 2018 season rather than play on the franchise tag.
Through various circumstances and reasons, Bell hasn’t seen the same level of success in 2019 and 2020 as he did the first five years of his career in Pittsburgh. He did sign a four-year, $52.5 million deal with $35 million guaranteed with the Jets but vastly underperformed in his time with New York.
But as he prepares to play the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV, Bell says he doesn’t wish he’d played in 2018.
“Oh no, that never crossed my mind,” Bell said Tuesday. “I feel like me sitting out, I just kind of look at it as it kind of helped me out on the backend of my career, because last year when I came back, it felt like I was reset. It felt like I was a rookie all over again. I was so excited to get back on the field and really just get my gatherings back. So I don’t know, it kind of reset my body. I feel like it’s going to really help me for the end of my career.”
Bell may have felt great, but he recorded only 789 yards rushing and three touchdowns while averaging just 3.2 yards per carry in 2019. He added 66 receptions for 461 yards and a receiving TD, giving him 1,250 yards from scrimmage.
But that was a far cry from his years in Pittsburgh, when he racked up 2,215, 1,884, and 1,946 yards from scrimmage in three of his last four seasons with the club.
Bell will be a free agent again in March, so he’ll have another opportunity to show just how fresh he is at age 29 in 2021.