The Eagles and Demetress Bell agreed to terms on a five-year contract on Wednesday,filling the void created when All-Pro Jason Peters ruptured his Achilles tendon.
Bell isn't a Pro Bowl player. He isn't an accomplished player at this point in his career. His four seasons in Buffalo were marred by injury. There was promise in those four years, enough so that when the Eagles watched Bell on tape, they saw a tremendous athlete -- a former college-level basketball player -- with great feet and movement.
And now they have him, this 6 feet 5, 311-pound mound of clay for Mudd to mold. The venerable offensive line coach loves athletes, and so he has quite a bit to work with in Bell. It is going to be an interesting process, to see how Bell matures and becomes the best he can be under Mudd, who has made a Hall of Fame career out of working with players exactly like Bell.
Bell is here with a five-year contract that can be structured in a number of ways. Don't ever take a five-year deal on the surface. There is no guarantee Bell will be here for five seasons. But if he plays well and rises to the occasion, who knows? Bell is athletic enough to move to other positions in the future. Nothing is etched in stone here.
The Eagles are still looking at Peters as the left tackle of the future. Peters has a long rehab in front of him to return to the football field, and him doing so in 2012 is a definite question mark.
For now, the Eagles have some security at left tackle. They have Bell, who is certainly the leading candidate to start, but who will also have competition from King Dunlap in training camp and in the preseason. They don't have to use a high draft pick on the position and can go back to focusing on the "best player available" rather than "filling a need."
Peters' injury is a big loss, but the silver lining is that it happened early enough in the offseason to allow the Eagles to go out and get a quality player as a replacement. Within a week, general manager Howie Roseman brought back Dunlap and then reeled in Bell, who had received a lot of interest in free agency and who was reportedly scheduled to meet with Green Bay later this week. Bell visited the NovaCare Complex over the weekend and clearly liked what he saw and what he heard, and the Eagles were impressed enough to get a deal done.
Good news, then. Breathe a sigh of relief. Bell is in line to replace Peters for the second time in his career -- he stepped in for Peters when the Eagles acquired Peters in a trade prior to the 2009 draft -- and this time he is going to play for an offense that has all the pieces to be great.
Todd Herremans remains at left tackle to protect Michael Vick's blind side, and the other three positions remain unchanged. The Eagles must work Bell into the system, into the Eagles' way, and they have plenty of time to do so.
Left tackle, then, is no longer an issue to discuss. Bell is here, bringing wiith him a fascinating story, and he is a promising player who has a lot of work to do to reach his ceiling.
What's next for the Eagles? They are focusing on the draft, on listening to trade chatter, on making the roster the caliber of a Super Bowl team. Chalk one up here for the negotiating team to get Bell here. Now he is in the hands of the offensive coaches.
There is a lot going on behind the scenes that we don't know about. Some it comes to fruition and some of it doesn't. The Eagles have wiggle room under the salary cap, they have a starting lineup on both sides of the ball that can win in this league and they have a lot of roster work to do.
You know how Roseman and Andy Reid work. They are movers and shakers who consider all of the options. There are going to be plenty for a team with assets to move. Stay tuned. You never know what is coming next for the Eagles.