NFL Free Agency: Philadelphia Eagles Sign LT Demetrius Bell to 5-Year Contract
The Eagles let their man leave town two days ago, but they didn't really let him get away, as the team signed OT Demetress Bell to a five-year deal. That's not a typo, as the Eagles also announced that his name is actually Demetress, not Demetrius.
The Eagles acted quickly after elite starting LT Jason Peters suffered a ruptured Achilles last week. They re-signed backup King Dunlap for depth and proceeded to lock up the player many rated as the best remaining left tackle on the market.
Don't let the five-year duration of the contract fool you; the Eagles front-loaded the compensation to avoid and automatic long-term commitment. Jeff McLane, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, reports that the Eagles "will have a decision to make next off-season, but they can move on from Bell without taking a salary cap hit."
While this addresses the immediate need and very likely eliminates the possibility of the Eagles taking an offensive tackle in the first round, it doesn't eliminate left tackle from their draft board. As McLane pointed out, the deal is likely short-term if the Eagles want it to be. Peters is only signed through 2014, and his future is cloudy after suffering such a catastrophic injury.
Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd was able to turn 2011 sixth-round pick Jason Kelce into their starting center last year, and he'll likely hand pick a few prospects for the Eagles third-day draft board to develop at offensive tackle. Bell also missed half or more of two of the last three seasons with injuries. Dunlap is a good fallback plan for this year, but he is no long-term answer.
Offensive tackle becomes much less of an immediate need for the Eagles, but you should still expect to see them add a player at the position in the draft.
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