Despite all the drama that surrounded him right before he joined the New York Jets in the 2019 offseason, Le’Veon Bell was among the players rumored to be on the move prior to Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline. Several teams reportedly showed interest in the former All-Pro running back, but as he claimed in a podcast appearance earlier this week, one of his suitors happened to be the very same team he feuded with over contract issues when he missed the entire 2018 season — the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As quoted by NESN on Thursday, Bell appeared on the latest edition of the 17 Weeks podcast, claiming that many of the trade rumors that swirled around him in recent weeks were “true.” The running back then mentioned the teams that unsuccessfully tried to trade for him prior to the deadline, with the Steelers standing out due to his past history with the organization.
“There were times where – I found out from my agent, you know, he had talked to the Jets and things like that. But there were teams like Houston, the Packers, the Kansas City Chiefs, and surprisingly the Steelers, were all in the mix of trying to trade for me.”
Separately, Sporting News quoted Bell as saying that the Jets had a high asking price during the supposed trade negotiations. He admitted it was “understandable” that other teams didn’t want to deal with the four-year, $52.5 million contract he signed earlier this year, as there aren’t too many teams that “want to pay that high of a price” for a running back.
Given that Bell sat out all of last season because he wasn’t satisfied with the contract renewal offers he received from the Steelers, the 27-year-old Jets star also stressed that he still stands by his decision, adding that he wasn’t going to settle for less pay this season just because of all the time he missed.
Steelers wanted Le’Veon back? ????— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) November 1, 2019
Bell says the Texans, Packers, Chiefs and even his former squad all tried to trade for him at the deadline
(via @uninterrupted’s ‘17 Weeks’ Podcast) pic.twitter.com/d8B81JKBuH
After racking up three 1,000-yard rushing seasons and getting named to three Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams with the Steelers, Bell hasn’t been quite as productive in seven games with the Jets, as seen on his Pro Football Reference player page. The former second-round draft pick has tallied 349 rushing yards on 108 attempts — good for an average of just 3.2 yards per carry — and has scored a total of only two touchdowns for a Jets team that has won just one out of seven games so far.
Although it might sound unusual that the Steelers were reportedly hoping to trade for Bell ahead of the deadline, Sporting News noted that Pittsburgh’s running back corps has recently been affected by manpower issues, with first-stringer James Conner and second-stringer Benny Snell both dealing with injuries. Third-string RB Jaylen Samuels is expected to get the start for Pittsburgh’s Week 9 game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, as noted by USA Today‘s Steelers Wire.