The Chicago Bears announced they had waived fourth-year running back Kahlil Bell on Thursday after tendering him a qualifying offer of $1.26 million back in March of 2012.
As it happened, the Bears signed RB Michael Bush this offseason, immediately relegating Bell to, at best, third-string. $1.26 million may not be a huge figure, but it’s a lot for a team to commit to a third-stringer.
According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, the Bears asked Bell to take more than a half million dollar pay cut this week (from $1.26 million to $700,000).
He refused and subsequently asked to be released.
It sounds like the Bears wanted Bell to be their number three, but they weren’t going to pay him $1.26 million to fill that role; especially with the strong performance of Notre Dame alum and undrafted free agent Armando Allen this offseason.
You certainly can’t blame Bell for choosing to move on given the Bears’ request, but it remains to be seen whether or not he made the right decision.
Teams have 24 hours to put in a claim on Bell, understanding that should they be awarded the claim by the NFL, they automatically assume his $1.26 million dollar contract.
It’s why there is a strong possibility, especially given the current running back market, that teams interested will forego submitting a claim, which would make Bell an unrestricted free agent, and try to make a play for him then.
It’s very possible that Bell will not be able to find the $700,000 the Bears were asking him to take on the open market. He may, but that’s the gamble.
(Sidenote: while it sounds like Bell asked to be released, the Bears essentially gave him an ultimatum. He wouldn’t have had a choice either way if he said no to their offer.)
But, regardless, even if Bell ends up playing on another squad for less than $700,000, he might have an opportunity for more regular season reps with a team that doesn’t boast the depth at RB that the Bears do.
In 20 games (three starts), played over three seasons (2009-11) with Chicago, Bell had 557 rushing yards on 119 attempts (4.7 ypc). He added 137 receiving yards and one touchdown on 20 receptions (6.9 ypr).
If Armando Allen does indeed stick, he will have the opportunity to earn a larger role on gameday as a change-of-pace back, especially given his diverse skill-set.
Look for Allen to get quite a few reps against the Giants on Friday.