Schefter explains that the Steelers feared the shoulder injury suffered by RB James Conner‘s against the Dolphins was potentially serious, possibly even season-ending, which led to them reaching out to the Jets about Bell.
According to Schefter, the Steelers considered other potential trade options at running back, but Bell was the most prominent name discussed.
The good news for the Steelers is that Conner’s injury turned out to be not as bad as they first thought and he may only miss a few weeks.
Sources confirmed that the Texans, Chiefs and Packers were among the teams in talks with the Jets for Bell.
Bell said Thursday on his Sirius Radio podcast “17 weeks” that the Steelers, Texans, Packers and Chiefs were in the mix to trade for him before the deadline.
“There was a lot of trade speculations and rumors about, you know, me getting traded obviously from the Jets to other, multiple teams,” Bell said, via Pro Football Talk. “And they were actually true. 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.”
Bell added that the Jets set a “high price” for him in trade talks and his contract was difficult for teams to take on.
“The Jets were really asking for a high price and a lot for me,” Bell said. “On top of that, my actual contract was kind of tough for teams to deal with, which is understandable. Not too many teams want to pay that high of a price for a running back.
“To be honest, I was not trying to take a pay cut, simply for the fact that I sat out a full year of football to get what I earned and deserved. That would’ve kind of defeated the whole purpose, so I didn’t want to do that.”
Bell later spoke with Jets GM Joe Douglas about the situation.
“[H]e took his time out to call me,” Bell said. “He kind of told me that they weren’t really shopping me in a sense but teams kind of inquired about me before the trade deadline. And, you know, he was honest with me, he said he was open to it. But like I said earlier, teams were really asking for a lot and he wasn’t really trying to give me up for something he didn’t feel like would help the New York Jets in the future. And he obviously feels like I’m a player who can help turn this team around.”
It will be interesting to see if Bell is back on the trade block during the offseason.
Bell, 27, is a former second-round pick of the Steelers back in 2013. He played out the final year of his four-year, $4,120,600 rookie contract, but Pittsburgh used their franchise tag on him.
Last year, the Steelers decided to franchise Bell for the second straight year, but he elected to hold out the entire 2018 season and set himself up for free agency in 2019.
The Jets signed Bell to a four-year, $52.5 million contract worth up to $61 million and includes $35 million guaranteed.
In 2019, Bell has appeared in seven games for the Jets and rushed 109 times for 349 yards (3.2 YPC) and one touchdown while adding 32 receptions for 187 yards and one touchdown.