Once word broke Jason Peters had ruptured his Achilles
during a workout last March, the Eagles sprung into action to replace their
great left tackle. They quickly re-signed King Dunlap, then immediately dove
head-first into the free-agent pool, their target the number one tackle on the market:
One miserable season later, Bell finds himself hunting for a
job again after the team announced his release on Wednesday.
Bell was penciled in as the starter upon his arrival from
Buffalo, but he was benched in favor of Dunlap a few short weeks into the
preseason. It was painfully obvious Bell struggled to adapt to offensive line
coach Howard Mudd’s blocking schemes. Despite injuries at every position along
the line except one last season, Bell only appeared in nine games in 2012,
starting five. He was a total liability whenever he was out there.
Philadelphia assumes no cap hit for Bell’s release. The
contract was for $34.5 million over five years, but the Eagles added an escape route.
The only “guaranteed” money other than at signing was in the form of an $8.5
million roster bonus due this offseason – which since he’s no longer on the
roster, the team does not owe him. Bell earned a little over $3 mil last season.
Tempting as it is to fault the Eagles here, there were no
good options. It’s not like organizations are overflowing with top-flight left
tackles, or routinely let the few quality players who can play the position
reach free agency. And even though Bell genuinely was the best player
available, there is a reason he was available in the first place.
We were skeptical from the beginning how much Bell would
help last season, but hoped it would be more than “not at all.”
Unfortunately the loss of Peters was felt from one end of the line to the
other, and to make matters worse, was only the beginning.
The good news is Peters’ recovery is said to be going well,
and he should be expected back on the field for the Eagles this season, thus
bringing an end to Bell’s reign of terror.
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