Let’s be honest, it would have been nearly impossible to fill the void created at left tackle when All-Pro Jason Peter went down last offseason with a torn Achilles. A healthy Peters is one of the most athletic and dominant forces in the game.
So when the Eagles turned to free agent tackle Demetress Bell to replace Peters, well, it was unrealistic to think he’d provide similar production. But it was fair to assume that Bell would provide some production.
He was considered by many scouts and media types alike to be the best option available, so the team handed him one of those pretty and inflated deals (5 years, $34.5 million) to help anchor what was an emerging offense line by the end of the 2011 season.
Had Bell played competitive football, perhaps the team would have retained his services moving forward, but what transpired was nothing short of a complete disaster. Bell was ineffective in nine games and five starts, unable to beat the mediocre King Dunlap for the right to play. And now he’s nothing more than a much deserved $9.5 million cap casualty.
The Eagles’ decision making process has been convoluted at best over the past few seasons, so it’s hard to say who should take the blame for the Bell signing, if anyone at all. Andy Reid? Howie Roseman? Both? It’s hard to say. The signing was initially received as smart because he was generally regarded as a solid player before coming to Philadelphia. Now, he’ll hope to land a cheap one-year deal as training camp fodder as he looks to prove 2012 was an aberration.
Regardless of who was fault, Bell’s ineptitude set the tone for the problems that would consume a once promising offensive line. His ineffectiveness spread to second-year guard Danny Watkins and put a disastrous chain of events into motion that made the Eagles line one of the worst units in the league.
From there, a once promising offense couldn’t help a brutal defense and the team’s hideous finish was a simple formality. The news of Bell’s release is just one of many of the initial steps that must be taken to turn the page on what was one ugly 2012.