Head coach of the New Orleans Saints Sean Payton spoke to the media today at the NFC coaches' breakfast and addressed the departure of RB Mike Bell to the Eagles.
"It's tough, and we were still discussing at 8 last night, but overall we looked at organization and this puzzle is bigger than just one part, which makes it hard. It's always a difficult decision with a player who meant so much the year before. [General manager Mickey Loomis] and I spent a lot of time on that decision," Payton said. "One of challenges of free agency -- Philadelphia is getting a real good football player -- is you begin to deal with your own economics and dollars. When Mike came to New Orleans we were able to get a young talented back that helped us in a lot of ways."
Honestly I thought the Saints would have let him walk without much thought. It's interesting that they labored so hard over it. Certainly makes it seem like they felt Bell's contribution to the team last year was important. Not important enough to fork over $1.7 million however...
As to whether the Eagles used a poison pill... I've noticed this report making the rounds today and I wanted to point out the facts. The Eagles placed a no trade clause in the contract Bell signed. The clause basically prevented the Saints from matching the offer and then trying to trade Bell to the Eagles or some other team later in the offseason. So, while the clause certainly did provide the Saints with some disincentive to match the offer, it can hardly be described as a poison pill. All it really did was eliminate the Saints' option to trade Bell.
The most famous "poison pill" was the clause put in Steve Hutchinson's contract by the Vikings that would have guaranteed his entire deal
if he played a certain amount of his games in the state of Washington, which he would have if the Seattle Seahawks had matched the offer. Update: Got this backwards. Hutchinson had to be the highest paid lineman on his team and Burleson would have been guaranteed because of the geography thing.