When Kendrell Bell signed his seven-year, $35 million contract on Tuesday; a singular cloud was lifted over the heads of Chiefs fans everywhere. As the news starting traveling that the Chiefs signed the former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, the media started pouncing on the fact that Bell was damaged goods.
Some said he was a bust. Some said he was damaged goods. Some said he had no heart. I finally had to stop listening. Please. Would you rather have Kendrell Bell or an injured Mike Maslowski or an under-sized Monty Beisel in the middle or the end of linebacker row in the Chiefs defense?
Enough said. Bell is one of those players when he's near 90% is better than any linebacker in the NFL. The Chiefs signed a Clydesdale on Tuesday. He could be the best linebacker we've had in a Chiefs uniform since Bobby Bell was playing for the Chiefs.
No disrespect to the late Derrick Thomas but Bell can hit, tackle and rush the passer in the same body. His speed will leave you in awe and he's the type of player who opposing teams will need to be aware of at all times. Not since Thomas has that happened on defense for Kansas City at the linebacker position.
Listen Bell has a history and its not good but you know what so does virtually every NFL player. The problem with last season for Bell is that he hurt himself in the training room and not on the field. The groin injury that resulted in minor surgery was caused by weightlifting. That's a lesson learned. In 2002, he injured his ankle in training camp but came back too soon.
Remember the NFL is a brutal sport and even the most well conditioned athletes are going to get hurt. Look at wide receiver Marc Boerigter last season who went down without even being touched.
Bell is the best linebacker on the Chiefs roster right now and granted I would like to see the Chiefs still sign Ed Hartwell; they've upgraded the position but they need to do more.
If they don't sign Hartwell, they can address another starting linebacker with the 15th pick. With Bell capable of playing middle linebacker, they could have a shot at Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson. His stock is falling somewhat and the Chiefs could be in a position to take him. He along with Scott Fujita would make for a solid starting group.
Shawn Barber is done until October at the best case scenario. Though he's working his tail off to be ready by opening day; his knee surgeries were severe in nature and the Chiefs have to be concerned what kind of production they can get out of him in 2005.
Bell gives the Chiefs a presence in the locker room that should help those who might not have given 100% last season on the defensive side of the ball. He's been a leader in Pittsburgh and he could have played in the post season for the Steelers who choice not to put him on the field. That might have been a mistake.
Now he's our linebacker and the Chiefs can start circling the market to upgrade both the cornerback and safety position before the draft. They will be getting a visit from Ty Law who I'm told is walking around now which is a good sign for the Chiefs who have to be keying on him at this point.
When Fred Smoot signed his $34 million contract with the Vikings on Tuesday; Kansas City lost out on the last healthy cornerback on the market. The Chiefs will evaluate Law and poke and prod his foot to determine if he's worth the risk to sign now. He's now scheduled to come in on Monday from what Warpaint Illustrated learned this morning from a Chiefs official.
His asking price should be diminished somewhat but he's a three time Super Bowl winner so he could hold out. But my guess is that Law wants to play for a winning organization. The Chiefs and Patriots are two of the best run in the NFL. I'm not comparing their Super Bowl credentials but from a stability point for a veteran player; the Chiefs are a solid choice and its clear that Law wants to come to Kansas City.
I liked the Chiefs flirtation with Rolle but he wasn't sold on being the man in Kansas City and Law would have no problem with that responsibility. Between Law and Bell they are the type of players who will take the lead in the locker room and on the field for this defense.
That's really what this team needs more than anything else. But just to be safe, let's sign Hartwell just in case.