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Report: Le'Veon Bell Trade Suitors Include Eagles, 49ers; PIT Target Earl Thomas

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2018

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14:  Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half of the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field on January 14, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers are reportedly among the NFL teams to express trade interest in Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell.

On Sunday, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported the updated list of potential suitors and noted another option could be dealing Bell to the Seattle Seahawks for Earl Thomas, though he stated there's been no direct contact between the sides despite the Steelers' interest in the safety.

Although it doesn't sound like a blockbuster trade is imminent, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday the Steelers are "actively shopping" the three-time Pro Bowler:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

From @gmfb Weekend: The #Steelers are now activately shopping RB Le'Veon Bell, sources say, making calls and doing due diligence. A trade would be difficult, but not impossible. https://t.co/EltwpqYrNs

Bell remains away from the organization after opting to carry his holdout into the regular season. Since the sides didn't come to terms on a long-term contract extension before the July deadline for players who received the franchise tag, he can only sign a one-year tender if he wants to play.

The 26-year-old Michigan State product could sit out through Week 10 before signing the tender to remain eligible for free agency at season's end, but he must sign before the Tuesday of Week 11 in order to play this season and avoid the Steelers being able to franchise him again at the second-year rate.

In March, Bell hinted during an interview with Andrew Unterberger of Billboard he could carry the situation right down to the wire.

"But obviously, when the end of July comes, wherever we're at…if I sign, everybody'll be happy, but if not, I guess I gotta play it by ear," he said. "If I'll be out till Week 1, if I'll be out till Week 10, or if I'm gonna be out there at all. It depends on how I feel at that time and moment."

While the Steelers' James Conner-led rushing attack has struggled in Bell's absence, ranking 23rd in yards per attempt, the offense as a whole still ranks third in yards per game thanks to Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and the rest of the passing game.

The most intriguing trade possibility mentioned is the swap between Bell and Thomas. Both players have long sought new contracts from their current teams and would represent a significant upgrade at their respective positions for their new squads.

All told, there's a month for Pittsburgh to figure the situation out before the Oct. 30 trade deadline or the club will have to hold on to Bell and hope he reports sometime before the Week 11 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Nov. 18.

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