The Steelers feared that running back James Conner's shoulder injury suffered Monday night vs. Miami was potentially serious, possibly even season-ending, sources told ESPN.
With that in mind, the Steelers reached out to the New York Jets and jumped into the discussions for Bell, along with the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers, according to sources.
Bell said this past week on The Uninterrupted's "17 Weeks" podcast that his agent informed him the Steelers were "in the mix of trying to trade for me."
Bell was not the only running back the Steelers pondered a trade for, but he easily was the most prominent, according to sources. But when the Steelers got word that Conner's injury wasn't as bad as they'd first thought and that he might miss only a couple of weeks, the talks with the Jets cooled, sources said.
With Conner inactive on Sunday, the Steelers leaned on Jaylen Samuels and Trey Edmunds against the Indianapolis Colts. Edmunds had 73 yards rushing on 10 carries, while Samuels had 13 receptions for 73 yards in the Steelers' 26-24 victory.
Asked about the report after the Steelers' victory, coach Mike Tomlin denied that his team inquired about Bell.
"Not to my knowledge, no," Tomlin said, shaking his head.
Bell, 27, played his first five seasons with the Steelers before missing all of 2018 because of a contract dispute. The three-time Pro Bowler signed a four-year deal with the Jets this past March.
ESPN's Brooke Pryor contributed to this report.