Prior to the NFL trade deadline on Oct. 29, news surfaced that the New York Jets were willing to trade All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell. This caught some by surprise considering that the former Pittsburgh Steelers star had only joined the team in March 2019. Bell has since confirmed this news and explained that a transaction was indeed very close to happening.
According to an interview with Pro Football Talk, Bell explained that a trade was close to happening as multiple teams in the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, and Steelers all showed interest in acquiring his services. However, this news didn't upset the running back as he simply focused on preparing for a potential move.
“Honestly, it was close,” Bell said. “I mean, obviously, it was at the time just hearing everything out and seeing how it plays out. Obviously, I didn’t want to get traded but if it did happen I was ready and I would do what I had to do but, yeah, I just understand from the Jets perspective if they were to trade me and they got some value out of it, I understand where they’re coming from.
“[I]t’s a business — strictly business — and I understand that whole business-decision thing, so I didn’t take too much offense to it. I just kept my head down and once the trade deadline went by I was ready to put my head down and get back to work.”
Ultimately, the transaction did not take place, which Bell attributed to his contract situation. He revealed to PFT that the teams involved in a possible trade wanted to restructure his contract and reduce some of the money taken home by the veteran. Bell did not acquiesce to these requests given that he sat out an entire season of NFL action to land the contract that would provide for him and his family.
Through nine games of action with the Jets, Bell has not performed quite to the level of his time in Pittsburgh, partially due to the changes in the surrounding talent, as well as the lack of opportunities. He was accustomed to logging more than 20 carries each game with the Steelers, but he has only topped that mark once in 2019.
Still, Bell has 449 rushing yards and two touchdowns, as well as 276 receiving yards and another score. His 3.1 yards-per-carry is the lowest mark of his six-year career.
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