The Detroit Lions have rewarded young running back Joique Bell with a restricted free agent tender of $2.187 million for 2014, followed by a two-year deal for $7 million with $4.3 million guaranteed. Essentially, Bell will be making about $9 million over three seasons with the Lions. Teaming up with Reggie Bush in the backfield, who signed a four-year contract worth $16 million last year, the Lions have locked down their rushing combo. In a pass-heavy offense, having Bell and Bush are perfect complements.
Bell and Bush combined for 2,709 all-purpose yards last season while becoming the first pair of teammates in NFL history to both go over 500 yards in rushing and receiving in the same season. Bell, the Benton Harbor native, caught 53 passes out of the backfield. With these two running backs, the Lions have the first half of their dynamic offense in place.
With running backs Theo Riddick and Montell Owens still on the team, it’s time for the Lions to deal away Mikel Leshoure. He had his moments when called upon for the Lions, but there’s no reason for him to stick around now. His rookie contract is ending soon, and Leshoure is interested in a more expanded role in the offense. Unfortunately, that’s just not going to happen on the Lions. Riddick has a higher ceiling as a running back/pass catcher than Leshoure anyway.
The Lions took a smart step today in re-signing Bell, who truly wants to play for the Lions. That sentiment right there is arguably more important than numbers. A man who loves his team and plays hard for it, who also has the talent and the right system, should see great success, and that’s exactly what the Lions hope for from Bell.