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Bell departs Bills for Philadelphia

The Sports Xchange

Demetrius Bell- make that Demetress - had big cleats to fill replacing Jason Peters in Buffalo. They're even bigger cleats to fill now that he's been tabbed to replace Peters in Philadelphia.

Bell, Buffalo's only remaining unsigned free-agent starter, landed in Philadelphia with an incentive-laden five-year $35 million deal. The Bills had made an offer to their 2008 seventh-round pick but it wasn't enough to keep him from tasting the market.

Bell had visits with Washington, Arizona and Pittsburgh and also drew interest from Green Bay before meeting with the Eagles, who found themselves in crisis mode after Peters tore his Achilles tendon while working out in Texas. Peters is likely out for the season.

Ironically, it was Bell who took over for Peters in Buffalo in 2009 after Peters signed as a free agent with the Eagles. Peters has gone to five consecutive Pro Bowls and many observers believe he's the best left tackle in the NFL today.

Bell isn't quite at that level. Durability not ability has been his issue, which is why Buffalo was lukewarm in their pursuit to retain his services. Bell missed large chunks of two the past three seasons with knee and shoulder injuries. He did play all 16 games in 2010.

"Demetress was one of the top free-agent offensive linemen available this year, and we are happy to be able to add him to our squad," Eagles coach Andy Reid said in a statement. "We had a chance to meet him over the weekend and study him extensively on tape, and we came away quite impressed."

They even got him to spell his first name correctly.

All of these years, Bell has gone by Demetrius but after checking his birth certificate recently, he found that his legal name is spelled Demetress.

What does his loss spell for the Bills?

It makes left tackle an unquestioned position of need heading into the NFL Draft later this month.

Chris Hairston, a fourth-round pick out of Clemson last year who earned seven starts, is the lone player at the position. While USC's Matt Kalil is expected to be drafted in the top five, Buffalo does have a shot at two other strong prospects in Iowa's Riley Reiff and Stanford's Jonathan Martin. Both are redshirt juniors.

Martin could be a reach at 10, opening up the possibility of the Bills trading down. But 10 is kind of a no-man's land for teams. Martin does have a lot going for him. He started three years and protected the blind side of Andrew Luck, who will likely be the No. 1 overall pick to the Colts.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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