Jets’ Gase to keep close eye on Bell’s workload
New York Jets coach Adam Gase, commenting Tuesday on his prized free-agent addition, promised to be mindful of Bell’s workload on the practice field and in games.
“You can wear a guy out with too many rushes, too many touches, too many snaps and too many practice snaps,” Gase told reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. “We’ll keep an eye on that. This is not going to be where we burn him out in the first six months. We’re aware of that.”
From 2013 to 2017, Bell compiled 1,541 touches (rushes and receptions), second only to LeSean McCoy‘s 1,571. One of the reasons Bell sat out last season in his contract dispute with the Steelers was because he felt another high-volume season would hurt his value on the free-agent market. As a result, he refused to play under the franchise tag, costing himself $14.5 million.
Bell, 27, got his money from the Jets in his first foray into free agency, so he might not have an issue with his number of touches. He signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract, including $27 million guaranteed at signing.
“I’ve always felt like I have a good feel for when a guy is fatigued or heading in the direction of maybe we’re wearing him down,” Gase said. “We’ll start early to where he’ll have a certain amount of reps. I mean, he is a running back. He is a veteran running back, and he plays a position that is very physical.”
After signing, Bell said the year off did wonders for his health, saying this “is the best my body has ever felt in my life.”
Gase said he had “no reservations” about committing to a player who spent a year away from the game, although he acknowledged it “may take a second” for Bell to regain his form.
Gase said he likes to use multiple backs, so he probably will find a way to work a rotation. The Jets’ top backup is Elijah McGuire, a former sixth-round pick who has rushed for only 591 yards in two seasons.
Offensive-minded Gase, who will call the plays, said he was thrilled to land a player of Bell’s stature, calling him a “rare” talent who will help the development of second-year quarterback Sam Darnold.
“Any time you put another veteran player with a young quarterback, I think that’s a positive, especially a guy that’s been on a team that’s been a playoff team,” Gase said. “He knows what it looks like.”
Bell and middle linebacker C.J. Mosley headline the Jets’ free-agent class. The Jets gave Mosley a record contract for an inside linebacker — five years, $85 million, including $43 million guaranteed at signing. It’s the largest guarantee in franchise history, topping Darrelle Revis’ deal ($39 million in 2015).
The Jets were “shocked” when Mosley became available, Gase said, because they figured he’d re-sign with the Baltimore Ravens or get slapped with the franchise tag.
“You start by thinking, ‘There’s no way he’s going to get out of there, there’s no way he’s going to get out of there,'” Gase said. “When he hit the market, it was a full-court press for us. We just felt like he was a culture changer.”