Eagles have interest in Le'Veon Bell, Steelers open to trading him for Earl Thomas
Nick Foles could be a trade candidate for the Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles are among the teams with interest in Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, league sources said, and while no trades are close or imminent, and there would be obstacles to overcome, Howie Roseman is among the more aggressive and creative general managers in the NFL.
The Jets and 49ers have also made exploratory calls, though nothing has advanced beyond a preliminary stage and San Francisco's interest is likely mitigated by the season-ending injury to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The Steelers are not in any rush to deal Bell, with the trade deadline still roughly a month away, and have been given no indication that the running back has any plans to report to the team. At this point, it's unclear how the All Pro would be welcomed back into the Steelers' locker room anyway, and there are concerns as to whether he is anything close to game shape, as well.
The Steelers are hopeful of getting more than a third-round pick for Bell – they would get a late 2020 third-round pick as compensation for him leaving as a free-agent, in all likelihood – and would prefer to deal him to the NFC, sources said. The Eagles would likely have to clear some salary and cap space in order to facilitate taking on Bell's $850,000 a week salary, but they have trade candidates like backup quarterback Nick Foles who could play a roll in that. Philadelphia dealt for running back Jay Ajayi a year ago, but he is a pending free agent and is dealing with a back injury, while the backfield has suffered from other injuries as well.
Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Wentz is coming back from a season-ending ACL injury and Bell, among his talents, is one of the premier pass-catching and pass-protecting running backs in the NFL. The Steelers would also be open to swapping their disgruntled running back for Seattle's Earl Thomas, who has asked for a trade and clashed with management in Seattle, but sources said there has been no contact between those teams to this point.
Bell has seemingly remained in the Miami area while refusing to sign his franchise tag, with no contact with Steelers officials. While any team that acquired Bell could not sign him to a contract extension until after the season, he could engage in at least some degree of contract talks with his new team, according to NFL and NFLPA sources, without the sides entering into any sort of agreement. If asked for an opportunity to speak with Bell prior to consummation of a trade, sources said the Steelers would likely grant it.
No trade could be complete until Bell signs his franchise tag. If Bell were to sign that tag in the coming weeks, the Steelers could receive a roster exemption for several weeks to allow him to get into shape. The team could also attempt not to pay Bell his game-check during that period of time, with it up to the two sides to negotiate those terms, which could also further complicate any return to Pittsburgh.
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