INDIANAPOLIS — Over the past year, the Jets have had some bumpy moments with two of their most high-profile players: safety Jamal Adams and running back Le’Veon Bell. But on Tuesday, general manager Joe Douglas made it clear: Adams and Bell aren’t going anywhere.
Douglas said that the Jets have started contract discussions with Adams, who has made the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons and eligible to negotiate an extension as he enters the fourth year of his rookie deal.
“Jamal is an unbelievable player,” Douglas said at the NFL Combine. “We’re excited about Jamal. The plan is for Jamal to be a Jet for life. We’ve had some preliminary talks with his agent. I’m not going to get into specifics on that. But again, the plan is for Jamal to be here a long time.”
Adams criticized Douglas in October, hurt and angry that the Jets considered dealing him at the trade deadline. But there appears to be no lingering fallout from that incident as Adams recently said that he hopes and expects to sign an extension with the Jets.
Meanwhile, Bell’s future has been a topic of discussion after he had the worst season of his career and seemed to clash with coach Adam Gase about his usage. But when asked point-blank, Douglas said he will not initiate talks to trade Bell.
“We’re excited about Le’Veon,” Douglas said. “Le'Veon’s been a great teammate. I can’t tell you how great he’s been. I had a great conversation with him at the end of the season exit meeting. I know he’s been working hard down in Miami [training]. I know he’s excited to get back. And we’re excited to have him.”
Bell averaged 3.2 yards per carry and had three rushing touchdowns in 2019, both career lows for a full season. In the middle of the season, Bell said that he told his coach that he didn't believe he was getting enough carries. After the season, a prickly Gase refused to comment on Bell's future, leading to speculation that Gase didn't want Bell to be a part of the Jets going forward.
But Gase said that the public perception that he and Bell don't get along just isn't true.
"We talked a lot during the season," Gase said of Bell. "He’s not a complainer. He does his job. He does everything he can to help us win. We’ve had a few text exchanges since the end of the season just checking in on each other.
"He’s been great for us. He’s done everything I’ve asked him to do. He tries to do things the right way. What everyone else says, I think we’re both to the point where we really don’t care. As long as our relationship is good, we’re good."
With Bell expected to be back in the fold, the big question now is if the Jets can find a way to fit him into Gase's offense. Gase said he and Bell had a good talk after the season about the running back's future with the team and that he expects to sit down and have more thorough talks once offseason workouts begin in the spring.
"It’s just really going to be about doing the right things schematically, depending on what direction we go with the run game," Gase said. "Just making sure we get him the right reps, reps with the right guys, making sure we’re all on the same page. And the passing game is always going to be about what’s the best way to use him. We’re always going to keep exploring that, whether [we] keep going back and look at some older stuff, talking to him, seeing some of the stuff he did really well for us this year, just keep exploring that.
By then, there's a chance the Jets could already have reached an extension with Adams. But don't count on it happening before the NFL owners and the NFLPA figure out if the 2020 season will be played under a new collective bargaining agreement. Douglas admitted that the uncertainty has put some decisions into a holding pattern.
"It's an uncertainty," Douglas said. "I'm not going to comment on anything regarding the CBA, but once things get cleared up it's going to kind of pave the way for a lot of decisions."