Report: Steelers listening to trade offers for Le’Veon Bell
Did the Pittsburgh Steelers finally budge in their long-running saga with Le’Veon Bell? According to an ESPN report, maybe.
“Steelers now listening to trade offers for RB Le’Veon Bell, league sources tell ESPN,” read a tweet from the verified Twitter account of the network’s Adam Schefter posted Sunday afternoon.
The Steelers own Bell’s rights because they placed the exclusive franchise tag on him in March. Because the two sides did not come to an agreement on a longterm extension by a July deadline stipulated in the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, either the Steelers nor any other team can negotiate a contract with Bell until after this season ends.
Bell is locked in at a $14.5 million salary – prorated for the games he is on an active roster for – this season. Bell has already forfeited more than $2.5 million of that by not signing the tender; he will lose $855,000 each week he does not.
A trade is complicated, though, because Bell’s stated reason for not signing and reporting is that he wants to avoid injury before he hits the open market in the spring. A trade to another team doesn’t change that — legally, at least. In practice and in theory, another team could make wink-nudge, informal promise of an extension to be signed in the spring.
Teams rumored to be a good fit for Bell include the New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Steelers (0-1-1) are off to their worst start since 2013. In Bell’s place, backup running back James Conner has 39 carries for 152 yards and three touchdowns, plus 10 catches for 105 yards.
Bell, 26, has 7,996 yards from scrimmage in 62 NFL games over five seasons.