Running back Mike Bell has certainly had his ups and downs in the NFL, bursting onto the scene as a non-draft rookie in Denver and enjoying a fine first season before inexplicably falling into head coach Mike Shanahan's dog house the next season. After kicking around for a couple of years, Bell earned a Super Bowl ring in 2009 with the Saints, a season that changed his perspective about the league.
"I was being selfish and not approaching the game the right way," said Bell, in for a two-day visit with the Eagles during which time he signed an offer sheet that gave New Orleans seven days to match or lose him to Philadelphia. "I'm a totally different person than I was then. In New Orleans, everyone was so unselfish. It was all about putting the team first, and that taught me a lot."
Should Bell join the Eagles, and all of the indications are that the Saints won't match the offer, he would provide a 220-pound, hard-charging running back who understands his place on the team and in the locker room. LeSean McCoy is going to be given the chance to start. The second-year man has approached the off-season the right way. He got into the NovaCare Complex and ramped up his workout program well in advance of the team's off-season conditioning program.
Bell, meanwhile, has to wait things out to officially know if he will be a Saint or an Eagle in 2010. It truly is, as Bell says, a can't-lose situation. He is going to have more security -- a reported $500,000 guaranteed money, to begin -- than he has had in his career. If Bell is here, he is going to get plenty of work in the short-yardage game and in spot duty working with McCoy. Bell is a different kind of halfback than McCoy or Brian Westbrook. He is more in the mold of Correll Buckhalter, and may even be more physical and a few pounds heavier than Buckhalter.
We can talk about it more when we know if the Saints match the one-year offer sheet Bell signed with the Eagles. But the thought of Bell, who burst out of the gates in 2009 before a sprained MCL sidelined him for three games and never returned to 100 percent the rest of the year, teaming with McCoy is intriguing, indeed.
* NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE OF THIS AND THAT*
In case you missed it, two of the team's free agents appear to be moving on. Safety Sean Jones has signed with Tampa Bay, and defensive end Jason Babin has signed an offer sheet with Tennessee. The Eagles have the right to match the offer sheet, but reports indicate that the Eagles will allow Babin to join the Titans. The Eagles get no compensation for losing either player, unless they are awarded compensatory picks by the NFL for next year's draft.
- Will Darryl Tapp start? It remains to be seen, but he'll get a chance. I don't think the Eagles would ever ignore a good defensive end if they have a chance to draft one, no matter how much they like Tapp. But what does his presence mean for the rest of the line? Hey, it's more competition. Victor Abiamiri needs to stay healthy and make an impact. Darren Howard must be more consistent. Juqua Parker, well, it's hard to argue with the effort and performance from him. Perhaps a few less snaps will benefit Parker in the big picture.
- So we can now evaluate the Lito Sheppard trade, at least knowing the players involved. The Eagles sent Sheppard to the Jets for a fifth-round draft pick last April, which became tight end Cornelius Ingram, and a fourth-round pick this year, which the Eagles traded to Seattle to acquire Tapp. Sheppard played one season with the Jets and is now an unrestricted free agent. Ingram spent last year on Injured Reserve after impressing in the spring and early in training camp. Tapp, of course, has been an Eagle for a little longer than a full day. Let the trade evaluation begin ...
- Linebacker Moise Fokou, by the way, is up to 236 pounds. Tight end Martin Rucker is fit at 255 pounds and cornerback Geoff Pope has put on four pounds of muscle and now weighs 190 pounds. Just thought you wanted to know ...
- The Eagles are down to six draft picks, which is very unlike Andy Reid. If the team gets a couple of compensatory draft picks, the number goes up to eight picks. History says that Reid likes to have 10 or so picks heading into a draft so he can move around at will.
- Tim Tebow is going to be a second- or third-round draft pick and he is going to be a good backup quarterback in this league. The kid is a winner, a leader and he clearly is interested in working hard and improving. I don't know why so many people are hating on a young man who has done nothing but good things in his college career at Florida.
- I think it is unfair to criticize the Eagles for their decisions in 2005 to sign a handful of young players to long-term deals. Two of those players -- wide receiver Reggie Brown (traded to Tampa Bay) and offensive lineman Shawn Andrews (released on Wednesday) -- didn't pan out as the Eagles hoped. No question about that. But Jamaal Jackson, Todd Herremans, Trent Cole and Mike Patterson have remained good starters, fine players and there have been no problems with their contracts. Not everything works out, people. If you want to point out the mistakes, point out the successes, too.