For whom the Bell toils could have a big impact on the Arizona Cardinals’ draft.
The Cardinals apparently are still in the hunt for free-agent offensive tackle Demetrius Bell, who surprisingly left the Philadelphia Eagles without a contract Sunday night. The Eagles need a tackle after losing Jason Peters for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Bell has met with the Cardinals, Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins since the start of free agency last month. He still could return to the Buffalo Bills, but is considered one of the prize left tackle free agents on the market.
The fact that Bell remains unsigned has led to speculation that his asking price is too high – which may hurt the Cardinals.
Arizona has done an admirable job clearing cap space in the offseason. Profootballtalk.com has reported that the Cards have $2.1 million of cap space and are tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the fifth least amount of room in the league.
Considering the fact that Arizona entered the offseason with the least amount of cap space in the NFL, fifth ain’t a bad place to be. But $2.1 million may not be enough to compete against the Eagles, who have $16.2 million of cap space available, the Bills ($9.7 million), Redskins ($7.6 million) or Steelers ($5.8 million).
Coming in anywhere between second and fifth for Bell’s services could force Arizona to get back into the offensive line game with its first pick in the draft later this month. Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff and Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin and guard David DeCastro would be at the top of the list.
And the intriguing thought of landing Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd or Boston College inside linebacker Luke Kuechly with Arizona’s first pick at No. 13 in in the draft might become an afterthought.
If the Cardinals can somehow convince Bell that he belongs in Arizona, those who have criticized the team’s quiet offseason might change their tune a bit. And he could be a better consolation prize for Peyton Manning than Cardinals fans realize.
Because of the possibilities his signing creates as to whom Arizona can target in the draft.