New Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly started cleaning out the roster on Wednesday.
His first significant personnel move since succeeding Andy Reid was to release underachieving tackle Demetress Bell.
Bell, 6-foot-5, 311 pounds, signed a five-year contract with the Eagles last April just days after the team learned that five-time Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters had suffered a ruptured Achilles’ tendon.
Bell was supposed to fill in for Peters but never came close to living up to expectations.
He lost the starting job to King Dunlap after the first preseason game and struggled to learn offensive line coach Howard Mudd’s blocking schemes the entire year.
Bell appeared in just nine games, starting five when Dunlap was sidelined with a sprained ankle. Dunlap, who also struggled for most of the season, will be an unrestricted free agent March 12 and is not expected to be re-signed. When right tackle Todd Herremans suffered a season-ending foot injury eight games into the season, the Eagles opted to insert rookie Dennis Kelly into that spot rather than take a chance on Bell.
The Eagles hope that Peters will be ready to play next season. He wound up tearing his Achilles’ twice and missed the entire season. His return would be a major upgrade to the Eagles’ offensive line. Peters enjoyed a terrific season in 2011. He not only made the Pro Bowl but was widely considered one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL, regardless of position.
Question marks abound throughout the offensive line. Center Jason Kelce (torn knee ligaments) played in just two games. Right guard Danny Watkins, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2011, started six games before being demoted in favor of Kelly and Jake Scott.
Only left guard Evan Mathis started all 16 games for the Eagles last season.
While Bell was cut, quarterback Michael Vick remained on the team as of Wednesday evening.
Under the terms of the six-year, $100 million contract he signed two years ago, Vick was due to receive a $3 million roster bonus if he was still on the team three days after the Super Bowl. However, the Eagles are only required to pay him if he stays on the team next season, if he is cut and does not sign with another team, or if he signs with another team for less than $3 million.
Kelly is still deciding what to do with his quarterbacks. Vick would seem to be the best fit for his versatile offense, but he admitted to being impressed with Nick Foles. Backup Trent Edwards is also still under contract. Another possibility is Dennis Dixon, who played for Kelly at the University of Oregon. Dixon is currently a member of Baltimore’s practice squad.
Extra point: In other news Wednesday, the Eagles signed former Canadian Football League defensive end/linebacker Chris McCoy to a three-year contract.
McCoy played the last two seasons with the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders, where he collected 29 tackles and five sacks. He spent his rookie NFL season in 2010 on practice squads with Miami, Seattle and Houston. He signed with Pittsburgh during the 2011 offseason, but was released at the end of the preseason.
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