"I was so torn": The year of The Vein Bell in exile from the NFL

PITTSBURGH – Just a tick after 10pm, The & # 39; Veon Bell came out of the New York Jets installation with his first chance to expire. He visited the premises, spoke to the New York media by conference call, took dozens of photos and yet, he still had not taken off his Jets cap.

It took the first day at an NFL office in 14 months.

"I'm really happy," Bell said during a lengthy telephone interview with ESPN on Thursday after speaking at a conference call with the media in New York. "Do not get me wrong, everything did not go as planned."

All those involved in the heated negotiations with his franchise felt that these potholes represented a career path that eventually led Bell to the New Jersey Turnpike. the Pittsburgh Steelers the resentment aroused by Bell's support for a year, and Bell has been trying to block the waves of criticism regarding his decision to keep $ 14.5 million in the trunk of an owner instead of his own wallet.

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Bell chose injury protection and guaranteed money promise in the future. Living this conviction for an entire season of the NFL has been one of the most difficult things he has ever done.

In highlighting its absence, Bell reaffirmed its initial intention to report to the Steelers in week 7, announced by ESPN on October 1. Bell said Thursday that he had absolutely plans to show up next week to the team to sign his bid and get the final result. to work. But shortly before, Bell learned he did not need to play a game to hit a free agency. Before that, he thought he needed to play six games for a past season, but it turns out he was free as long as the Steelers did not score him. The Steelers finally decided that the $ 14.5 million allocated for the transition in 2019 was too steep.

Bell heard the news on social media shortly before departure and then consulted with his agent, Adisa Bakari. That changed his plan to signal, and he could not tell anyone because that would reveal too much about his future plans. During week 10, The Athletic announced that Bell had gleaned "new information" during the process that kept him out of the way.

"It was the biggest confusion of all time," said Bell. "I thought I had to stay home until the 10th week, otherwise they could score me again.Before before the week off, that's where I found out I was not Did not have to play. "

The Steelers never told him about an exchange before the October 30 deadline, so Bell has ruled it out. But he left the opportunity to dress in Pittsburgh once again. At the beginning of week 10, Bell flew to Pittsburgh on a whim. He was hanging out in the house in his area. He tried to play basketball to empty his mind. In the days leading up to the team's 52-21 win over Carolina PanthersBell was on his couch and ready to grab his car keys to get to the establishment.

The "Veon Bell says he had played the last six games of the 2018 season and was injured" I would have felt sick. Zach Bolinger / Icon Sportswire

"I was so close to doing it," he said. "At the same time, I was so torn.Are I going to go through that? Do they kiss me or not? I finally decided that I was going to at 10 games, I can sit six others, at the time the team was not functioning well, having problems, a lot of blame for me, I did not want to come back and not feel welcome. "

According to Bell, the only benefit of playing last year was in a lesser role, and not at its normal pace of 25 touch per game. Bell did not want to take that risk.

"If I had been injured in the last six games, I would have felt bad," he said.

He therefore rejoiced during this sabbatical year by intensifying his training in November. He spent time with his family, went to Los Angeles and his hometown, Columbus, Ohio. He was comfortable knowing that he had acquired a position of flexibility. Bell and his camp thought that the Steelers would not want to deal with a transitional label that would limit the flexibility of traffic jams and presented major challenges for an exchange.

All this paved the way for Bell to try to reset the market of the last market. Bell secured a $ 25 million guarantee on its $ 52.5 million four-year contract with the Jets, which is slightly more than the Cardinals David Johnson ($ 24.682 million)

But it's hard to ignore Bell's money in Pittsburgh.

Bell's offer of $ 70 million over five years to the Steelers would have brought in about $ 45 million in the first three years, with no guaranteed salaries. That's a $ 19 million difference from the $ 26 million it can earn in the first two years with the Jets.

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Bell estimated that fans and the media expected him to earn between $ 16 and $ 17 million a year, and he was ready not to get it. Guarantees were paramount and the Steelers were very short in this area.

"The [average per year] was good. The three year cash is fine. But you have to give me some middle ground, "Bell said.[The Steelers] tried to leave me no leeway on it, to take it or leave it … At the end of the day, I wanted to go where that would make me happy and have money guaranteed, no matter what 'was coming. I saw what happened to [Steelers linebacker] Ryan Shazier [who might never play again after missing most of the past two seasons with a spinal injury]and I saw that with my own eyes. I must protect myself. The owners are protecting themselves, I must do the same thing. Any other team and that would have been quite good. But the way [the Steelers] structure and the way I am, I just can not switch with it. The way the Rams did it [with Todd Gurley’s contract] was perfect, the Cardinals with David Johnson, Zeke [Elliott] will probably kill. "

The exodus of Bell has led to white and green, a new team and a new city that he is eager to conquer.

But he has become an All-Pro in black and gold, which he will not forget.

"I love the city of Pittsburgh," Bell said. "People were angry at me, which is understandable, the feeling that I'm not on the ground with you.But everyone is entitled to what he feels.I have no bitterness to anyone, at the same time, I wish everyone the best there, it just did not work. "

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