Chief Debate: Kendrell Bell

We hope you enjoyed our April Fool's joke! In our continuing Chiefs Debate series we stay with defense. What should the Chiefs do with linebacker Kendrell Bell?

To the delight of some, this will probably be a very short article. In fact, my opinion of Bell could probably be summed up in a single paragraph, but I have to plunge through the good and bad. I need to give the guy a fair shake - at least for the next 500 or 600 words.

At one time, Bell was one of the NFL's premier linebackers. He was a force on Pittsburgh's defense in his first season, winning Rookie of the Year honors.

Bell could run like a deer and hit like a truck. His reckless abandon put fear into quarterbacks, running backs and receivers, who preferred to run out of bounds before absorbing a hit from Bell.

But injuries, and a fiery coach who felt the linebacker had lost his edge, made Steelers' fans believe Bell had peaked in his first three years. Former Steelers head coachBill Cowher was once his biggest supporter, but didn't think he worked hard enough to come back from injuries.

That led to his departure from Pittsburgh. In March of 2005 the Chiefs were SO desperate to sign an impact defensive free agent they gave Bell a long-term deal for huge money, despite the fact he failed a physical a week earlier in New York.

Bell was all set to sign with the Giants before New York's doctors felt his shoulder was too weak to hold up to the beating he'd take during games. The Chiefs felt differently, and made him one of the highest-paid linebackers in the game, at least on paper.

In actuality, Bell only received a few million before making his NFL debut as a Chief. It was bad from the start, as Bell never recovered from a groin injury that nagged him throughout 2005.

He never really adjusted from Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense to KC's 4-3, but it wasn't purely his fault. Bell should never have been moved outside. He doesn't have the speed or the skills to cover that much ground. Instead, he should have supplanted Kawika Mitchell at middle linebacker.

With the additions of Napoleon Harris and Donnie Edwards this offseason, Bell is a man without a position. Is he also a man without a team?

Not yet. The problem with Bell is that the Chiefs have made some mistakes with defensive players. One was defensive end Vonnie Holliday, who played out of position in Kansas City before succeeding as a defensive tackle with the Miami Dolphins.

I think most Chiefs fans realize that Holliday would be a nice fit in the middle of Kansas City's defensive line right now.

Bell is now relegated to backup status if he remains on the roster, but regardless of the position he plays the Chiefs must restructure his contract. In 2007 he's expected to earn nearly $3.1 million. I won't even get into his 2008 – 2011 numbers.

Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards has said he might move Bell to defensive end. I'm not sure about that idea, but if the Chiefs are intent on keeping him around they have to find something for him to do.

I'm not sold he can contribute much next season, though I can see keeping him around for insurance – but not at his current price.

For me, Bell was nothing more than the Chiefs flexing their free-agent muscles, hoping they'd hit on a guy two other teams felt was washed up.

Whether or not the Chiefs give him another chance remains to be seen, but right now it appears they are not quite ready to throw him to curb.

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