the Pittsburgh Steelers were down to their third and fourth running backs this afternoon, featuring Jaylen Samuels in the passing game, and Trey Edmunds ultimately emerging as the top back on the ground for the team. He ended up rushing for 73 yards on 12 carries, though that is boosted by a 45-yard run on his first carry.
The Steelers knew rookie Benny Snell would be out for a somewhat extended period of time ahead of this game after suffering a knee injury against the Miami Dolphins that required a cleanup procedure. There have been reports that the team fears James Conner may miss multiple weeks as well.
In conjunction with those reports was one that claims the Steelers inquired about trading for their former All-Pro running back, Le’Veon Bell, at the trade deadline, who signed with the New York Jets this offseason. It’s not clear how that has ever been substantiated, since it largely hinges upon the running back’s own claim.
Head coach Mike Tomlin was asked after the game about the reports and if the team indeed inquired about trading for Bell. “Not to my knowledge, no”, was his only comment on that topic. And unless the Steelers really feared at one point that Conner’s should injury might be season-ending, I have a very hard time imagining that they did reach out.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 3, 2019
Through the mixture of reports, there have been indications that it was the Jets reaching out to other teams, wanting to get rid of his contract. If there was any contact between the Jets and Steelers, it was probably initiated by New York, and quickly rebuffed.
While Conner’s injury to his shoulder might be slightly more significant than initially believed—he didn’t even rule himself out for today’s game at the start of the week, but ultimately never even got on the practice field—the idea of bringing in Bell always seemed far-fetched.
That is especially so in light of the fact that they released Donte Moncrief with an eye toward recouping the projected third-round compensatory pick they believe they will receive for losing Bell in free agency. Trading for Bell within 10 weeks would negate that compensatory pick.
I’m not sure if this Bell story ever had any kind of legs, but if it did, it didn’t stand very long. And at this point, it no longer matters, since the trade deadline is now behind us anyway. The Steelers may go into next week’s game, once again, with Samuels and Edmunds as their two backs, but they believe they can work with that. Hell, they’ve gone into games with worse.