Don Wright/Associated Press
According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets have reached out to the Steelers to “express interest” in a deal for Bell, although they have not made a concrete offer.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday that Pittsburgh is listening to offers for the running back, who has not reported to the team after failing to sign his $14.54 million franchise tender.
Bell is expected to miss his third game of the year Monday night, and there has been no indication he will return to the Steelers anytime soon. Trading him could allow Pittsburgh to recoup assets, likely in the form of draft picks, for a player who won’t see action because of his holdout and will likely leave in free agency after the season.
Meanwhile, the Jets could add a game-changing weapon to help out rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.
When he is on the field, Bell is as good as there is at the position. He was named to the Pro Bowl in each of the past two years while totaling 3,830 yards from scrimmage despite missing five regular-season games in that stretch.
New York has a pair of solid running backs in Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell who have combined for 310 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards this season, but there is no question Bell would be a significant upgrade.
The biggest question is whether the Jets would be willing to trade for the running back without knowing his future. NFL rules prevent the two sides from agreeing on a multiyear deal until after 2018, which could make him an expensive rental before he leaves in free agency.