Obviously with Jason Peters out of the fold for 2012 the Philadelphia Eagles were fortunate to land Demetress Bell today. It’s being reported that the Eagles have signed him to a five-year deal.
It’s important to get out of the way immediately that Bell is not truly a replacement for Jason Peters. Peters was the best left tackle in football last year and Bell doesn’t even approach his level of talent or dominance.
That being said, this was a big signing that can’t really be overlooked based on the difference in ability.
Signing Bell is big in a few ways. The first is that Bell is a legitimate, experienced starting left tackle in the NFL. He suffered from collarbone, ankle and knee injuries last year, but he has started 30 games in his career.
Bringing on a player with his experience will help make the transition more seamless.
The second positive to draw from his signing is that he comes to the team with a full offseason to work with offensive line coach Howard Mudd.
Mudd did wonders with a line in chaos in 2011 and now he has four players returning who have a year’s worth of experience in his system. Part of the problem last year was starting two rookies for most of the year and having players shifting all over the line heading into the season.
There will be no such problem this year. The only difference will be Bell on the outside. He isn’t a massive tackle at 6’5″ and 310 pounds. He is a good athlete and he has the skill set to fit into what Mudd likes to do.
The amount of time he will have to work with the coaching staff, plus having four linemates that can help him along will be a huge plus.
Lastly, the addition of Bell gives the Eagles more flexibility in the draft. Instead of being forced into taking an offensive tackle in the first round or with another high pick, they can proceed with taking the best player available through the draft.
Personally, I think that is the most successful way to draft players and I’ll be happy if the team takes this approach. Many people rolled their eyes with thoughts of the Eagles trading up for a tackle or maybe reaching for one with the 15th pick, but those worries should be gone.
The Eagles have had a really strong offseason on the back of a disastrous 2011 season and while facing serious pressure to improve. Bell isn’t Jason Peters, but this signing is just another step on the road to the top in 2012.