Thanks to the rules governing restricted free agents, the Lions aren’t likely to lose running back Joique Bell to another team this offseason.
It’s hard to imagine a team ponying up a draft pick in either of the first two rounds to acquire Bell when few teams have been using those picks on rookie running backs in recent years, so the chances are very good that Bell is in Detroit in 2014. It would be advantageous to the Lions to sign him to a longer deal and save some room under the cap, however.
According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, such a deal may be in the offing. Birkett reports that the two sides are close to agreeing on a multi-year deal. If they can get it done by 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, they’ll have a bit more money to spend when the free agent stampede gets underway.
Bell gained 650 yards on 166 carries while working in tandem with Reggie Bush last season. His role could expand with a new offensive system in place and, one way or the other, it looks like he’ll be in Detroit to make his case for that expansion.
UPDATE 9:05 a.m. ET: Adam Caplan of ESPN reports Bell will be tendered at the second-round level if he’s not signed by 4 p.m. That would guarantee him $2.187 million if he plays in 2014 after signing the tender, but the two sides would still be able to sign a longer deal.