The Le’Veon Bell trade rumors are heating up as the Pittsburgh Steelers grow more active in shopping their unhappy star running back, with a new report that the New York Jets have reached out to express interest.
This weekend, reports emerged that the Steelers were ready to start actively listening to trade offers for Bell. As Adam Schefter of ESPN reported, the Steelers were gauging interest from other teams for the All-Pro running back, who has now missed the first three weeks of the NFL season while holding out for a contract extension.
The New York Jets have received the message, with a new report from ESPN claiming that they have reached out to the Steelers for some preliminary talks. The report noted that the Jets have not made an actual offer to the Steelers yet, and it is not clear how strong the level of interest might be.
“The Jets are known for performing due diligence whenever a high-profile player becomes available,” the report noted. “Most times it amounts to nothing more than a passing interest — such was the case with wide receiver Josh Gordon — but they did make an offer three weeks ago for pass-rusher Khalil Mack.”
The report noted that it could be very tricky for the Pittsburgh Steelers to trade Le’Veon Bell, who is set to become a free agent after this season. He also carries an $11.9 million salary for 2018, a price tag that few teams could afford outright.
The Jets would be one of those teams, however. The team has $17 million in cap space, ESPN noted, and would have $90 million available in 2019, when Bell is seeking a long-term deal.
The Steelers may be ready to trade Le'Veon Bell and the Jets have reached out and are 'monitoring' the situation.
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) September 25, 2018
A trade could be timely for the New York Jets, who at 1-2 are tied with the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills for second place in the AFC East. Though it is still early in the season, the Patriots have shown some signs of decline and the division could be up for grabs. Adding Bell would boost a Jets backfield that relies on veterans Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell and led some stability to an offense led by rookie Sam Darnold.
The trade rumors surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers could still have more time to simmer. Le’Veon Bell has shown no urgency to get back onto the field this season, and the Steelers still have a little more than a month until the October 30 trade deadline to make a move.