MIAMI — It took Bilal Powell nine NFL seasons to make it to a Super Bowl.
The 31-year-old running back was walking Radio Row on Thursday. His real wish?
“I would like to play in one,” Powell said.
Powell has been the one constant in the Jets’ locker room during the past nine playoff-less seasons. He has played for three head coaches under four general managers since he was drafted by Terry Bradway in 2011, just a few months after Rex Ryan’s team was in its second consecutive AFC Championship game.
As he nears free agency, Powell could choose to chase his Super Bowl dream elsewhere. Or …
“I want to retire a Jet,” Powell said. “I’ve been there nine years now, and I’d like to finish out my career there. My family and I are real familiar with the area. I would love to retire a Jet.”
Powell was a free agent until June last season, after his three-year, $11.25 million contract expired while recovering from a neck injury once feared to be career ending. Is there mutual interest in a reunion this year?
“I got positive feedback,” Powell said of his exit meetings, “but I like to keep everything in-house.”
Powell suffered a neck injury in Week 7 of the 2018 season but returned last season to carry 59 times for 229 yards in 13 games behind Le’Veon Bell.
“I would’ve liked to play a little more, but Le’Veon is a great running back and I came off a serious injury,” Powell said. “One of my biggest goals was to show some production with my time. I came out healthy, so I’m just looking forward to 2020.”
In a way, just being on the field was a win, but he also leapfrogged Ty Montgomery to be the primary backup.
“When you get comfortable with certain things,” Powell said, “I think the injury really allowed me to appreciate every moment you walk through the facility doors and have a job to do, something you’ve been doing all your life.”
Powell made it this long with the seemingly always in-flux Jets by blocking out distractions.
“I just kept my head down and I worked,” Powell said. “I blocked out all the negative things around me and I didn’t let any criticism define who I was as a person.”
The Jets finished 7-9 after winning six of their final eight games in coach Adam Gase’s first season.
“Unfortunately we missed the playoffs by a few games and you’d like to have the couple plays back that defined those losses,” Powell said, “but I think it’s a good momentum swing for the organization.”
Powell would like to be around when the Jets finally turn the corner with quarterback Sam Darnold.
“It’s set up perfectly,” Powell said. “Adam’s offense fits Sam. You are going to see a big jump this year to next year with Sam being in the offense for two years. I think he’ll be a lot more comfortable.”