Le'Veon Bell on 2018 holdout: 'I don't regret anything that happened'

Last year, star running back Le’Veon Bell threatened to sit out the entire 2018 season after the Pittsburgh Steelers franchised tagged him for a second straight year. Surprisingly, he followed through.

Now that he finally got a big deal from the New York Jets, does he have any regrets about how things went down?

"I don't regret anything that happened," Bell said in his introductory news conference on Thursday. "Obviously, everything happened for a reason. Who can say if I played last year if I do go out there and play on a one-year [deal] or franchise tag that I do get hurt, do I end up sitting here today being with the New York Jets? On the other side of it, if I go out there and do play on the franchise tag and I get another 400 carries, who's to say that a team would pay me after 400 carries?"

While Bell may not have reset the market for running backs, he did land a four-year, $52.5 million contract — that could reach as high as $61 million — with $35 million guaranteed. He bet on himself and came away smiling.

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Le'Veon Bell through his career
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Le'Veon Bell through his career
ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 09: Le'Veon Bell #24 of the Michigan State Spartans scores on a 41 yard touchdown in the second quarter during the game aginst the Michigan Wolverines during the game on October 9, 2010 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 03: Le'Veon Bell #24 of the Michigan State Spartans runs the ball in the first half against the Wisconsin Badgers during the Big 10 Conference Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 24: Le'Veon Bell of Michigan State runs the 40-yard dash during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 24, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: Leveon Bell attends the 10th Annual ESPN The Magazine Pre-Draft Party at The IAC Building on April 24, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 10: Injured running back Le'Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the sideline during a preseason game against the New York Giants at Heinz Field on August 10, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Giants defeated the Steelers 18-13. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers is tackled by Kyle Wilson, New York Jets, during the New York Jets V Pittsburgh Steelers NFL regular season game at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ, USA. 13th October 2013. Photo Tim Clayton (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 22: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up before a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 22, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Steelers defeated the Packers 38-31. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 05: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs for yardage during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on October 5, 2014 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 30: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers rushes against the New Orleans Saints during the game on November 30, 2014 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 30: Ben Roethlisberger #7 hands the ball off to Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game against the New Orleans Saints at Heinz Field on November 30, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 14: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs off the field after the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on December 14, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 03: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches the game from the sideline in the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers during the preseason game at Heinz Field on September 3, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
October 25, 2015: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) during the NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 26: DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Le'Veon Bell #26 talk before a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 26, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 16: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on before a NFL game against the Miami Dolphins on October 16, 2016 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery/ Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 13: Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back Le'Veon Bell (26) stretches out to score a touchdown during the NFL Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 13, 2016, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The Cowboys defeated the Steelers with a final score of 35-30. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 04: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up before a game against the New York Giants on December 4, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 25: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) looks on after a NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens on December 25, 2016 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The Steelers went on to win 31-27, advancing to the playoffs as the AFC's No. 3 seed. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 25: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) runs out to the field after being introduced during a NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens on December 25, 2016 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The Steelers went on to win 31-27, advancing to the playoffs as the AFC's No. 3 seed. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15: Running back Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tosses the ball forward after gaining a first down against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 10, 2017: Running back LeVeon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers laughs as he plays catch with fans prior to a game on September 10, 2017 against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Pittsburgh won 21-18. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 24: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears won 23-17 in overtime. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 01: Running back Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball against the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, October 29, 2017. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 12: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) watches a video replay during the NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts on November 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 10: Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back Le'Veon Bell (26) walks in before the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 10, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 10: Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back Le'Veon Bell (26) looks on during the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 10, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) runs with the ball during the AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers on January 14, 2018 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half of the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field on January 14, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 28: Runningback Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the AFC Team as he arrives to the NFL Pro Bowl Game at Camping World Stadium on January 28, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
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Bell: ‘This is the best I’ve literally ever felt’

Bell was reportedly offered more total money by the Steelers last year, but he called the offer “Monopoly money” because only $17 million was guaranteed. His holdout wasn’t about money — the $16 million he’s already earned is life-changing money — so much as it was about respect.

Bell wanted security and to feel like his team cared about him. Sure, he gave up $14.5 million last season by not playing, but he guaranteed his health going into this offseason. The Steelers gave him a league-leading 427 touches in 2017, and since they likely would not have retained him, they could have run Bell into the ground.

There’s plenty of history showing what can happen after a player gets 400 touches, and Bell is clearly aware of that. Playing on the franchise tag in 2018, getting hurt and playing on a small one-year deal in 2019 was not an option for him, so he guaranteed his health so that he could earn a big payday.

"It's the best my body's really ever felt in my life," Bell said. "There's nothing that even comes close to comparing how I feel. Literally just resting and letting my body heal. ... My body got so much rest, I've got so much built up in me, it's time to let go. This is the best I've literally ever felt in my life -- that I can remember."

Bell: ‘I’m happy where I’m at’

Of course, Bell earned one of the largest contracts. His $35 million is second only to Todd Gurley for effective guarantees among running backs, and some were saying he might not even get David Johnson’s $30 million in guarantees from last year.

Not only that, but Bell got his wish of leaving the reality show-esque Steelers for a team that not only wanted him but needed him.

"The Jets just kinda were the team that I kinda had in the back of my mind where I wanted to go," Bell said. "So, you know, once the numbers made sense to me it wasn't really a hard decision. I made a decision and I'm happy with the decision I made. Today I woke up, you know, feeling amazing. I'm happy where I'm at."

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