Tim Benz: Le’Veon Bell says Steelers were interested in trading for him
I’m going to guess that this is a Halloween trick from New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell.
But what a treat it would be for those of us in the media if it had actually happened.
Who knows. Maybe the Steelers would’ve benefited on the field, too.
The former Steelers star appeared on the Sirius XM podcast “17 Weeks.” He claims those rumors you may have heard regarding the Jets being engaged in trade talks about him were true.
That’s surprising, seeing as how New York’s $52 million acquisition of Bell in free agency was one of the biggest in the entire NFL offseason.
And to give up on it halfway through his first year with Gang Green? Geez! What a bust that would’ve been.
In the end, the trade deadline came and went, and Bell stayed with New York. But according to Bell, it wasn’t without some discussion with a few other clubs.
So who were the Jets talking with about trading Bell? He says the Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, and …
wait for it …
the Pittsburgh Steelers.
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) October 31, 2019
I’ll give you a moment to clean up the Cheerios you just snarfed all over your keyboard with that spit-take.
Bell claims that’s what his agent told him, anyway. We’ll see if anyone at Steelers headquarters comments.
Let’s break down how this could be true. Or, at least how that message could’ve been expressed to Bell as truth, to the point that he is regurgitating what he has been told as fact.
The easiest potential answer is it’s not true at all.
Bell had an acrimonious divorce from Pittsburgh. He might simply be trolling the Steelers, knowing that this headline will generate attention and waves, and it will make the Steelers look desperate and jilted.
Or his agent, Adisa Bakari, is feeding false info to his client for many of the same reasons. And he knows Bell would send it out somehow because he can’t keep his mouth shut.
But if these aren’t flat-out lies, here’s where the kernel of truth may have been planted. It’s possible Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and Jets general manager Joe Douglas were having trade discussions before the deadline with the conversation going like this…
Colbert: “Who are you making available, Joe?”
Douglas: “Robby Anderson, Jamal Adams, Player X, Player Y and Le’Veon Bell.”
Colbert: “Le’V? Really? Already? Ha! Life is funny. I gotta ask, what return do you want?”
Douglas: “An XX round pick this year and an XX round pick next year.”
Colbert: “Wow. Good luck with that. Anyway, about Player X …”
Boom. There you have it. That counts as the Steelers “being involved in trade talks.”
At least in the eyes of Bell and his representation.
Let’s be abundantly clear. One of those three options is probably closest to the truth. Especially because the Steelers have nothing of substance but a second-round pick in the 2020 draft to offer.
But if it was more than that, here’s how it could make sense.
Even though they are just 3-4, the Steelers have pushed a lot of chips into the center of the table on this season. They already traded for Minkah Fitzpatrick and Nick Vannett. They seem to think they are still a playoff candidate.
The running back ranks are thin with James Conner and Benny Snell hurt. Bell could be a valuable target — and blocker — for young quarterback Mason Rudolph. Then, upon Ben Roethlisberger’s return in 2020, those two could create some of the electricity they did as teammates between 2013 and 2017.
Good luck with that.
And good luck ignoring that Bell is having a rotten season, averaging a putrid 3.2 yards per carry.
Plus there is the matter of absorbing Bell’s contract through 2022. That’s no small task, but keep in mind most in Pittsburgh have argued that Bell’s deal in New York was more team friendly than the one they were willing to extend to Bell before he got to free agency.
In the end, a return for Bell to Pittsburgh didn’t happen. And, in the podcast, he never mentioned whether he would welcome it. Although he did state that he felt more appreciated in New York than in Pittsburgh.
Is he making the whole thing up? Who knows. Maybe we’ll find out on a track in his next rap album.
Regardless, as bad as this season may end up for the Steelers, I never want them to be so desperate that they feel they need to bring back Bell after the stunts he pulled here and on his way out the door.
There will be other running backs in the sea this offseason. The 2019 campaign isn’t worth working that hard to salvage.