By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Le’Veon Bell had some issues with the way business was conducted in Pittsburgh. Like, serious issues. As in, skip an entire football season types of issues. Those issues were largely centered on contracts and money, but Bell later admitted that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was a part of the problem, too.
So Bell moved on, signing with the Jets for big bucks and brighter days.
But, well, not so fast.
The Jets looked like a bit of a clown show on Wednesday, as they fired general manager Mike Maccagnan. Teams do occasionally fire executives, especially teams that go 14-34 over a three-year stretch. A change is understandable.
But teams don’t often fire GMs long after that GM was given free rein to spend millions upon millions of dollars in free agency, and not after that GM was in charge of running the draft for a team.
Nevertheless, Maccagnan was axed in the middle of May, and according to reports, his conflicts with new head coach Adam Gase were a major reason why.
Rumors of a dysfunctional relationship between Maccagnan and Gase have swirled for weeks, and Brian Costello of the New York Post amplified that storyline on Wednesday.
“Sources inside and outside of the Jets organization say it was clear from the start that Maccagnan and Gase were two very different personalities who could clash,” Costello wrote. “Those fears grew during free agency when the two had disagreements over several players.”
But during this offseason, Gase vehemently denied those reports.
“I don’t know who decides to put that stuff out there,” Gase said earlier this month. “It kind of pisses me off a little bit, because we have discussions on everything. That’s our job. We have to work through so much stuff. That’s what we have to do. That’s all we’ve done since we’ve been here.”
And on Wednesday, after announcing the firing of Maccagnan, chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson denied that the move was made as a sign that Gase had won some sort of power struggle. The timeline of the entire Jets offseason would seemingly suggest otherwise, but that’s nevertheless the story that Johnson wanted to put out on Wednesday.
And that’s where Le’Veon Bell enters the picture.
The man who brought Bell to the Jets with a big-money contract was Maccagnan. He’s now gone.
The man who didn’t want to bring Bell to the Jets with a big-money contract was Gase. He’s still the head coach (and interim general manager, which is fun).
From Costello’s Post story:
“Sources said Gase was not in favor of paying running back Le’Veon Bell as much as the Jets did (four years, $52.5 million), feeling they could get him at a lower price. Gase also wanted to sign center Matt Paradis and tight end Darren Fells, but Maccagnan did not.”
Gase absolutely made it clear that he didn’t want Bell, according to sources. The head coach left no doubt that he didn’t want to spend a lot of money on any running back or center.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport piggybacked on that notion:
“Liked the player, didn’t love the money is how I heard it on Le’Veon Bell. Adam Gase also didn’t love the price tag on CJ Mosley. It all added up.”
So, to recap: Bell sat out for an entire season because he did not feel as though the Steelers properly valued his contributions on the field. Bell is now playing for a head coach who, according to reports, does not think he’s worth the money he’s being paid. That may not provide Bell with the warm fuzzies he was looking for as a free agent.
I’m sure it’ll all work out in the end. For the Jets, it always does.
(Wait, what’s that? Oh, I’m getting word that it actually does not always work out for the Jets, who have missed the playoffs for eight straight years, who have gone 6-6 in 12 postseason games since the turn of the century, who have finished in last place in four of the last five years, and who are not scrambling to find a general manager in the middle of May. That’s our bad. We regret the error.)