Bell Officially Signs, Baskett Cut To Make Room
By Lance Epstein
On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Eagles claimed running back Joique Bell off the Buffalo Bills practice squad and made room for him by cutting veteran (WR) Hank Baskett.
The news is not surprising since on Monday, Bell was reported to be in Philadelphia for a physical and a workout. He passed the physical and he is now officially an Eagle.
However, the biggest shock was the fact that the Eagles kept running backs Mike Bell and Eldra Buckley and dumped Baskett. This marks the second time in a year that the Eagles have released Baskett to make room for another player. Last year, Baskett was caught in the numbers game. The Eagles needed to make room on the 53-man roster for (QB) Michael Vick after he served his two-game suspension.
A reason for the Eagles cutting Baskett was that rookie wide receiver Riley Cooper had emerged as the team's fourth wideout during the preseason. It was a bit of a surprise that Baskett even made the original 53-man roster with Kelley Washington outplaying him throughout training camp. Additionally, with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Cooper all ahead of him, Baskett became expendable.
As for J. Bell, he signed with the Bills as an undrafted free agent out of Wayne State, which is a Division II school. During the 2009 season, J. Bell made quite the name for himself as he compiled 2,065 yards during his redshirt freshman year. Over his entire career at Wayne State, Bell amassed 6,728 rushing yards and 89 rushing touchdowns. In addition, he caught 79 balls for 918 yards and eight more scores. By the end of his college career, he finished ninth in NCAA history in total all-purpose yards with 8,055 yards (409 return yards).
During the preseason, J. Bell was also very impressive. He led the Bills in rushing yards with 152 yards and two touchdowns. Still, he was unable to beat out running backs Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller and was eventually signed onto the Bills practice squad.
Currently the Eagles have four running backs on the roster: LeSean McCoy, M. Bell, Buckley and J. Bell. It is unknown if the Eagles plan on keeping Buckley or M. Bell around much longer. The smart money would probably be on Buckley being the released sometime in the near future. However, M. Bell's inability to remain healthy or be productive when on the field might have the frustration levels rising among the Eagles coaching staff. Ultimately it may boil over and lead to his eventual release.
Adding J. Bell and releasing Baskett was not the only move the Eagles made today. They also cut safety Chip Vaughn and running back Martell Mallett from their practice squad. No replacements have been named yet. However, it is likely that one of the positions is for a safety with just three active safeties being on the Eagles 53-man roster.