The three-time Pro Bowl running back is averaging 49.9 rushing yards per game on 3.2 yards per carry for a team that is 1-6 — not exactly what either side had in mind when Bell signed a four-year, $52 million deal with New York in the offseason.
The struggles for both Bell and the Jets led to speculation that he would be dealt before the NFL’s trade deadline that passed on Tuesday.
Bell says he was hot commodity on trade market
Bell remains a member of the Jets, but said on Thursday that trade talk was hot and heavy and included his former Steelers, with whom he had a less-than-cordial parting that ended with a season-long holdout.
.@LeVeonBell confirms the trade rumors and reveals which teams were involved, then weighs in on @TheAdamsEra on the newest episode of #17Weeks with @SiriusXM 🎙️
Listen: https://t.co/cr2DKQgAjM pic.twitter.com/LRt8Vee4h8
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) October 31, 2019
“I found out from my agent he had talked to the Jets — and things like that,” Bell said. “But it was teams like Houston, the Packers, the Kansas City Chiefs and surprisingly the Steelers were all in the mix in trying to trade for me. From what I heard, and what I understand was the Jets were really asking for a high price and a lot for me. 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.”
Why would these teams trade for Bell?
Bell’s claims, of course, should be taken with a grain of salt.
While the Texans have cobbled together a running back committee after the ACL injury to Lamar Miller and could certainly use the talents of a player like Bell, some of these locations don’t make much sense.
Aaron Jones is in the midst of a star turn in Green Bay, having tallied 821 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns though the Packers’ first eight games. He has a strong backup in Jamaal Williams.
Adding Bell to Andy Reid’s offense sounds enthralling, but the Chiefs have a stable of running backs and significant needs on defense that outweigh the upside of upgrading their backfield.
And the Steelers — well, they’ve got plenty of problems. But Bell’s Pro Bowl replacement and bell-cow back James Conner isn’t one.
Bell says he, Douglas discussed trade talks
Bell said that Jets general manager Joe Douglas told him that he fielded calls about trade interest, but wasn’t actively shopping him — a message that echoes Douglas’ own earlier in the week.
“He took his time out to call me and told me that they wasn’t really shopping me in a sense, but teams kind of inquired about me before the trade deadline,” Bell said. “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 that would help the New York Jets in the future.”
Bell was upset with lack of touches
Bell, who was reportedly upset with his touches during Sunday’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, told reporters on Thursday that he was frustrated, but that he’s “fine” and had a productive talk with head coach Adam Gase about his usage.
"I expressed the way I felt to coach Gase and things like that," Bell said. "We had a good little talk. I want to be one of the main reasons for helping the team win.
“I don't like not being used, and we end up losing the game. I felt like I couldn't help my team out.”
For now, Bell sounds prepared to weather the storm after a trade deadline that didn’t send him to a new locale. But if he continues to struggle for a team that’s losing, don’t expect that attitude to last long.
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