Le'Veon Bell's future with the Jets is up in the air, and GM Joe Douglas did nothing on Tuesday to shut down the trade rumors that have been surrounding the running back for months.
Asked point blank if he wanted Bell to be part of the team next year, Douglas hedged.
"My personal experience with Le'Veon has been very positive," Douglas said. "He's done everything we've asked him to do as a person, as a teammate. ... he's one of our best workers, he's one of our best teammates. He connects and engages with everybody, so I can't say enough positive things about Le'Veon."
Pushed further on whether he would be open to trading Bell, Douglas did not say no.
"Like I said before, if teams do call, I'm gonna listen," he explained. "How those conversations go, I can't speak to that. That's hypothetical. When teams call, I will listen."
While much of what Douglas said can be written off as GM-speak, he could've gone another way and said something to the effect of 'yes, we expect Le'Veon to be a Jet next year.' That would've still given him wiggle room if he wanted to keep the door open for a possible trade.
Instead, Douglas was clear that the team will continue to explore the possibility of trading their biggest free agent acquisition from last offseason.
During his end-of-season presser on Monday, head coach Adam Gase was asked about Bell's future and deferred to Douglas.
"He's under contract for three more years. ... you can ask Joe tomorrow," Gase said.
Gase then doubled downed on the answer when asked if he specifically wanted Bell back:
"You can ask Joe tomorrow," he said. "I'm not the personnel, I'm not in charge of personnel."
Shortly after Gase's comments, Bell reacted on Twitter.
And so it goes for Bell, whose first season with the Jets was marred by injury, relative ineffectiveness, and a backlash resulting from bowling after being diagnosed with the flu.
The Jets listened to offers for Bell around the trade deadline, but were not actively shopping him, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano reported at the time.
Several teams called Douglas near the deadline to see if he'd be willing to part with Bell. Douglas didn't hang up the phone on them, but was looking to be blown away in order to make a deal. The Kansas City Chiefs were among the strongest suitors.
Vacchiano added at the time that a trade of Bell could make sense if Douglas shared the same view Gase expressed back in March, when he intimated that he was happy the team signed Bell but was not happy with the amount of money that it took to get him.
Bell, 27, signed a four-year, $52.5 million deal this past offseason after sitting out the 2018 season while on the Steelers.
Bell has a cap hit of $15.5 million in 2020, $13.5 million in 2021, and $15 million in 2022, before being eligible for unrestricted free agency.