Yes, the Jets talked to several teams about a potential trade for running back Le'Veon Bell. And Bell has publicly disclosed the teams that were talking to New York about a deadline deal.
“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 on Uninterrupted’s 17 Weeks podcast on SiriusXM/Pandora. “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.”
A trade didn’t happen because, as Bell explained it, “the Jets were really asking for a high price and a lot for me.” He also said that teams were reluctant to take on his contract, and that “I obviously was not trying to take a pay cut simply for that fact that I sat out a full year of football to get what I felt like I earned and deserved.”
Unlike teammate Jamal Adams, Bell accepted an offer from Jets G.M. Joe Douglas to talk about the situation.
“[H]e took his time out to call me,” Bell said of Douglas. “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.”
If any player understands the business realities of pro football, it’s Bell. After sitting out all of 2018, he now has a contract that pays out $27 million guaranteed over two years for a position that has been systematically devalued. He’s getting that money as long as he shows up and plays football.
For the rest of this year, he’ll be playing football for the Jets. It will be interesting to see whether someone tries to trade for Bell in the offseason — and whether the Jets will take advantage of the opportunity to avoid $13.5 million in cash and cap space.