By October, reports emerged that he would rejoin the Pittsburgh Steelers during the team's Week 7 bye.
Ultimately, Bell skipped the entire season. But when speaking to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler recently, the veteran confirmed he initially planned to report in Week 7.
At the time, Bell thought he needed to play six games to gain an accrued season and become a free agent in 2019. The three-time Pro Bowler learned through social media that he didn't need to play at all, as long as he wasn't franchised tagged for the third time.
"That was the biggest mix-up the whole time. I thought I had to sit out until Week 10 or else they can tag me again. Around before the bye week, that's when I found out I didn't have to play," Bell said.
Rather than risk injury while playing on a one-year contract, he elected to stay away and focus on netting long-term security through free agency.
However, Bell again considered rejoining the Steelers in Week 10.
"I was so close to doing it. At the same time, I was so torn. Do I go through that? Will they embrace me or will they not? I eventually decided I sat out 10 games, I can sit six more," he said.
"At the time, the team was malfunctioning, having problems, a lot of blame on me. I didn't want to come back and not feel welcome."
Bell signed a four-year, $52.5-million deal with the New York Jets this week and said he has no regrets about losing a year of his prime.
"The fact that I took last year off, it sucked having to watch football, but at the same time in December and January, it was the best my body felt in my entire life," he said on Thursday.
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