Reports: Jets contact Steelers about Bell


The New York Jets reached out to the Pittsburgh Steelers regarding holdout running back Le'Veon Bell, according to multiple reports on Monday.

The exchange was merely a "preliminary conversation" with no trade offer, per multiple reports.

ESPN reported Sunday that the Steelers are listening to offers for Bell, who has yet to report to the team or sign his franchise tender after getting tagged for the second consecutive offseason. Bell ended his 2017 holdout before the regular season, but it remains unclear if or when he'll join the Steelers this season.

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Any trade of Bell would have to come before the Oct. 30 deadline, and the acquiring team would have to take on significant salary. Bell is currently owed just under $12 million for the rest of 2018, after forfeiting $2.6 million ($853K per game) for missing the Steelers' first three games.

An acquiring team also would not be assured of keeping Bell long-term. Bell is not allowed to sign a contract extension with any team until after the season, and at that point, he could simply choose to hit free agency. It's unlikely any team would use the franchise tag on Bell, as it would cost around $18 million if used a third straight time on him.

The Jets have the cap space (around $17 million) to take on Bell, but they would also have plenty of space (in the neighborhood of $90 million) to sign him as a free agent in March.

In Bell's absence, the Steelers have gotten good production out of second-year back James Conner, who had 192 yards on 36 touches with two touchdowns in a Week 1 tie against the Cleveland Browns. He was held to 17 yards on the ground against the Chiefs, but scored a touchdown and added five catches for 48 yards.

In his five seasons in Pittsburgh, Bell has had at least 1,200 yards rushing and 600 receiving yards three times. He is a two-time first-team All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler.

But his contract squabbles with the club have become an annual offseason ritual. After not signing under the franchise tag until Sept. 4 last season, Bell averaged fewer than 3.5 yards per carry through the first three weeks. But he finished 2017 with a league-high 321 carries for 1,291 yards along with 85 catches for 655 yards and 11 total touchdowns.

--Field Level Media