Prior to releasing the running back, the Lions offered Bell an opportunity to stay with the team at a reduced rate, which he declined, mlive.com reports. The move saved the Lions $2.5 million against the team's 2016 salary cap. That said, Bell, who turns 30 in August, hasn't ruled out a potential return to Detroit, but before such a notion is entertained, he'll explore his options as a free agent. Bell is coming off a 2015 campaign in which he averaged just 3.5 yards on 90 carries over the span of 13 contests.
The Lions released Bell on Tuesday, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports. In a cost-cutting move, the Lions have decided to move on from Bell, who burst onto the scene during the 2012 season. His production on both the ground and through the air spurred the sides to agree to a two-year extension during the 2014 offseason. However, injuries afflicted him throughout the past campaign, as he managed 90 carries for 311 yards, 22 receptions (on 27 targets) for 286 yards, and four touchdowns across 13 appearances. The 29-year-old back will now aim to join another organization, though a change-of-pace role is likely his ceiling at this point in his career.
Bell wrapped up the 2015 season with 311 yards and four touchdowns on 90 carries and 22 catches for another 286 yards. For many of Bell's teammates, production started coming along after the Lions' switch at coordinator. Bell started coming around at the same time, but his improvements likely had more to do with getting healthy after battling knee and ankle injuries. Bell was the only Lions back to rack up over 100 total yards in a game, Week 15 against New Orleans, and his four touchdowns also led Detroit backs. Detroit has a lot of talented youth running back, including Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner, so Bell and his contract could be a cap casualty. If he stays, expect for him to continue to be featured in goal-line situations.
Bell caught both of his targets for 49 yards and added three carries for nine yards in Sunday's win over the Bears. Bell's five touches tied a season low. The veteran back had tallied betweeen seven and eight carries with two catches in each of the five games leading into Sunday, during which he scored three of his four touchdowns on the season. With younger, cheaper options available in Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner, it wouldn't be a surprise if Bell spent his age-30 season on another team. Should he move on, he could be considered a value as a goal-line back.
Bell carried the ball seven times for 13 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's win over the 49ers. He added nine receiving yards on two catches. Bell powered his way up the middle for a 1-yard score in the second quarter, his second touchdown in as many weeks. Bell may have crashed back down to earth with 22 total yards on Sunday after a combined 176 in the previous two weeks, but he has also removed any doubt as to who the Lions' goal-line back is. Bell leads Detroit's three-headed rushing attack with four touchdowns despite his 107 total touches ranking behind those of Ameer Abdullah, 157, and Theo Riddick, 117.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|3||09/25||@Green Bay Packers||11||15.33|
|6||10/16||Los Angeles Rams||23||18.50|
|13||12/04||@New Orleans Saints||31||22.38|
|15||12/18||@New York Giants||26||20.38|
|17||01/01||Green Bay Packers||11||15.33|
|3 Year Avg||160||607||6||36||385||0||134|