RB Bilal Powell signs one-day deal to retire with New York Jets

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Wednesday, April 27, 2022

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Former New York Jets running back Bilal Powell, who spent much of his career as a backup but climbed to eighth on the franchise's all-time rushing list, announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday by signing a ceremonial one-day contract with the team.

Powell, 33, last played in 2019, following a significant neck injury that cut short his 2018 season. He underwent surgery but made it back to play 13 games as a reserve player.

A fourth-round pick out of Louisville in 2011, Powell spent his entire career with the Jets. He was their leading rusher in 2017, with 772 yards. For most of his career, he was known as a reliable No. 2 ball carrier, playing behind running backs such as LaDainian Tomlinson, Chris Ivory and Matt Forte.

Powell finished with 3,675 rushing yards and 5,275 yards from scrimmage, which ranks seventh on the Jets' all-time list. He's the only player in franchise history to have four runs of 40-plus yards in the same season. In nine seasons, he didn't get a chance to play in a single playoff game.

He was always well-respected among teammates and coaches, yet he managed to keep a low profile. The media-shy Powell rarely did interviews.

"I had a couple of opportunities to leave, to go play for some Super Bowl-contending and playoff-contending teams," Powell told the Jets' official website. "I remember one year, two of the teams that wanted me in free agency ended up playing each other in the Super Bowl.

"I just always chose to come back to New York because I always wanted to see the trophy come back here again. It was a thing for me, deep down, when I signed my name on that contract to become a New York Jet, I wanted to stay a New York Jet, and that was for me personally. I always wanted to see the trophy come back, not only for myself, but for the Jets fan base."