Earlier today, the Eagles and Cleveland Browns reached a deal that would swap Mike Bell and Jerome Harrison from their prospective teams.
Bell, who was acquired in the off-season from the New Orleans Saints, has struggled thus far as an Eagle. He was expected to be a compliment to youngster LeSean McCoy, but instead has been a bust. With only 16 carries for 28 yards on the year, Bell failed to convert on big play downs as well as break away for any significant gains on offense. He has been hampered with injuries since the beginning of training camp and has never seemed to bounce back.
Twenty-seven year old Jerome Harrison was expected to be the Browns top running back this season. Last year, he amassed 862 yards and five touchdowns, averaging over four yards per carry. In the last three games of the season, he led all running backs with 561 rushing yards. One of his most elusive skills is his receiving skills. In his 51 career games with Cleveland, he had 61 receptions for 444 yards and three touchdowns.
Based on their history in the NFL and what they can offer in the present and future, I cannot believe the Browns were willing to give up Harrison straight up for Bell. Harrison was clearly upset that the Browns acquired Peyton Hillis in the off-season and then drafting Montario Hardesy in the second round and since then has underperformed. Even though he has shown flashes of potential, Bell has never really created an identity in the NFL. He doesn’t have a specific set of skills that set him apart from starters in the league.
Harrison, despite losing the starting job to Hillis this year, will be a great compliment to LeSean McCoy. The Eagles aren’t looking for a No. 1 running back, but rather someone they can trust to take the load away from McCoy and fill the void effectively if Shady gets injured. Harrison is a speedy back and fits in well with the Eagles west coast offense. He has proven that he can make big plays, which was proven last season when he rushed for 286 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 20th. At 5-foot-9 210 pounds, Harrison has bull-like features that could be useful on short yardage situations on top of the break away speed that could lead to big plays.
Even if Harrison turns out to not be the same Jerome Harrison that finished off the 2009 season, he can’t look much worse than Mike Bell did this season. It was a decision that is probably best for both players and from the looks of it, the Eagles got the good end of the deal.