Author’s Note: this post can also be found at the Bleacher Report.
The Eagles will likely be without star left tackle Jason Peters for much or all of the 2012 season after he tore his Achilles’ during a recent offseason workout, but the team is closing in on tabbing a potential replacement for him, as according to a report, Philadelphia is the “frontrunner” to land free agent LT Demetrius Bell.
Bell, an athletic young tackle with the ability to swing to the left or right side, has attracted interest from a number of clubs this offseason, but has been patient in deciding upon his new team.
Buffalo has been interested in retaining him, but it appears Bell wants more money than the club is willing to invest in him.
Originally a 2008 seventh round pick out of Northwestern State, Bell has spent the entirety of his four-year career with the Bills, playing and starting in 28 games. In 2011, the Bills finished 4-3 in the seven games that Bell played in, and just 2-7 during those that he missed.
He helped to provide blindside protection for QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, and would be called upon to protect the strong side for Michael Vick – who is left-handed – in Philadelphia.
Bell is still a work in progress as a player, as he didn’t start playing the game until he enrolled at Northwestern State. Buffalo drafted him with development in mind, and they were able to hone his physical skills into a dependable left tackle.
He’s 6’5” and solidly built at just over 300 pounds, and Philadelphia has long had a history of developing linemen as well.
While it remains unclear what the Eagles may be willing to offer Bell, it’s possible that the team could invest in Bell on a one-year deal while Peters is on the mend.
Bell, who has experienced a slower market for his services than he likely expected, may opt to sign a one-year pact as a platform to set himself up for a payday next offseason. He also needs to prove that his durability is not a concern to teams, as he does have an injury history that includes a season-ending knee injury in 2009.
Bell is the son of NBA legend Karl Malone, although the two have a unique, strained relationship.
Washington, Green Bay, and Arizona are all teams rumored to have interest in Bell as well.