New Orleans Saints running back Mike Bell met with the Philadelphia Eagles today. The Eagles are currently searching for the right running back to replace veteran Brian Westbrook, who was released a couple of weeks ago. Bell is a restricted free agent and was offered the lowest possible contract with the Saints for next season. Since he is restricted, it might be difficult for the Eagles to make a deal because New Orleans has the first option to match or raise any deal set forth by the Eagles organization.
Bell is not the tallest running back (about six feet tall), but he is bulky (225 pounds) and plays a grinding style of football. He could be a great compliment to second-year running back LeSean McCoy’s abilities to hit the gap. Bell and Leonard Weaver could handle the short yardage situations and third down plays while McCoy can run free on the first and second downs.
Last season, Bell led the Saint’s running core in carries. He averaged just under 4 yards per carry, compiling 654 yards and five touchdowns on the season. Considering the Saints were a pass-happy offense, Bell was the go-to guy around the goal line for the defending Super Bowl champs. Even though his receiving game was overshadowed by Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, Bell has been successful in the past catching the football. In 2006 he had 20 receptions for 158 yards, which is close to 8 yards per catch. That same year he rushed for over 675 yards and 8 touchdowns as one of the main running backs for Denver.
Another advantage to Bell’s resume is his age. Next month he will be turning 27, which is considered veteran status in the NFL these days. With Brian Westbrook gone, Bell could act as a leader to both McCoy and Weaver who are both entering their second year in the league. I am not suggesting that Bell is going to come in and do Brian Westbrook-like damage when Westbrook was 27. I am also not saying that he will have as big of an impact off the field as Westbrook. However, I do believe that he would compliment McCoy’s running style and take a load off Weaver’s short-yardage and full back responsibilities.