Of the possible trades that the New York Jets were rumored to be making ahead of Tuesday's trade deadline, sending running back Le'Veon Bell to another team seemed like the most unlikely.
But the running back said Thursday on UNINTERRUPTED and Sirius XM's 17 Weeks Podcast that the Jets were receiving real interest from at least four teams, three of which are real playoff contenders and one of which Bell is very familiar with.
"I found out through my agent he had talked to the Jets and there were teams like Houston, the Packers, the Kansas City Chiefs and, surprisingly, the Steelers were all in the mix in trying to trade for me," Bell explained. "The Jets were really asking for a high price and a lot for me. On top of that, my actual contract was kind of tough for teams to deal with, which is understandable. Not too many teams want to pay that high of a price for a running back."
New York was willing to pay a lot for a running back when the Jets signed Bell to a four-year, $52.5 million contract in the offseason.
Drafted by the Steelers in 2013, Bell sat out the entirety of the 2018 season in a contract dispute with the club. Pittsburgh has since moved on with James Conner, Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell at running back, but according to Bell, the Steelers were exploring bringing the back back to the Steel City. Not that Bell wants to leave Gotham any time soon.
"People kind of look at me as a hero in a sense, and I like that feeling of being wanted and being appreciated," Bell said of playing for the Jets. "Not saying I wasn't appreciated in Pittsburgh, but it just feels a little different here. And I can't really put my words on it."
Bell went on to say that Jets general manager Joe Douglas called Bell directly after the deadline and told him while they weren't shopping him, teams had inquired about trading for the RB. Bell called the 10-to-15 minute conversation a "respectable talk."
"I didn't take any offense by it because I understand the business of the NFL," Bell said. "If nobody does in this league, it's definitely me. I understand the business of the NFL like no other."
The veteran's reaction to his name being thrown out on the trade deadline was far different than that of his teammate, Jamal Adams, who insisted that Douglas went behind his back by shopping him during the deadline. The GM insists the team was not shopping the Pro Bowl safety.
Bell was as surprised as Adams that the safety was apparently on the trade block but says that despite Adams' recent comments, the 2017 first-round pick wants to remain in green.
"Jamal's happy to be in New York," Bell said. "I guess that there was talk about him going to the Cowboys or they were interested in him and things like that. I guess it wouldn't have all been bad because he is from that area, so if he did go home, I'm sure he would've been happy with that also.
"I'm happy that he's on my team and I wouldn't want him to traded and I'm glad he's still with us."