The Eagles announced today that they have released OT Demetress Bell, shedding the team of one it's most ineffectual players and opening up over $9 million in space on the 2013 salary cap in the process.
Bell was signed late in the free agency period last year when the news surfaced that All Pro LT Jason Peters had torn his achilles tendon working on his own in Texas. The Eagles were forced to scramble for a replacement and settled on the former Buffalo Bill, who had had trouble staying healthy but had showed real promise at times.
Health didn't turn out to be the issue in Philadelphia as Bell seemed in over his head from day one and actually lost the starting job in camp to King Dunlap. When Bell did get his chance to play in the regular season, he continued to look in over his head.
Luckily for the Eagles, his contract was structured in such a way that if he flopped in year one, he could be released with no cap penalty. However, if he had played well and they decided to keep him, he would paid like a top LT. Obviously the latter was not the case and therefore Bell is gone.
Let that be a little parable about life in the NFL and how much contracts are worth... Bell had $31.15 million left on his deal, but because non was guaranteed after last year, the Eagles can toss that contract out the window with no penalty at all.
The Eagles will still have more decisions to make at LT before the offseason is over. Obviously the health of Jason Peters is the major question. An achilles tear is a pretty major injury in the first place, but when you tear it twice as Peters did, who knows what kind of effect that will have on his career. It's worth keeping in mind that Peters is set to make over $10 million next year, but that is almost all base salary and not guaranteed. Just like Bell, the Eagles could drop him and pay no penalty, meaning they could free up almost $20 million in cap space from clearing out their LT position.
If the Eagles find themselves with a chance to grab a franchise LT like Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher this April, don't be shocked if they do just that. Especially since that guy would sign a deal that would probably pay him about $5m a year for the next 4 years.