Print and Go Back NFC North [Print without images]

Friday, August 24, 2012
BBAO: Kahlil Bell's oddly-timed departure

By Kevin Seifert

We're Black and Blue All Over:

Running back Kahlil Bell's departure Thursday from the Chicago Bears wasn't completely unexpected. Bell was playing behind two well-paid veterans, Matt Forte and Michael Bush, and backups Armando Allen and Lorenzo Booker have been impressive in training camp. The timing, however, was unusual and in the end reflects the bad blood that can be a part of the NFL's restricted free-agent (RFA) system.

RFAs are rarely pursued on the free-agent market because of compensation that would be due to the original team. Usually, they are left with no choice but to sign a one-year tender offer. As an undrafted player with three years of experience, the Bears tendered him at $1.26 million.

That's a nice salary for a third-string running back in exchange for losing the chance to sign elsewhere. Recently, however, the Bears made the perfectly legal request that he take a pay cut to $700,000, according to Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune. The value was slightly more than the veteran's minimum for a fourth-year player, but it essentially robbed him of his rights as a RFA. Against what was probably his better judgment, Bell denied the request and asked for his release, according to the Tribune.

In the end, this episode won't impact the Bears' fortunes in 2012. But I would imagine the NFL Players Association would seek ways to stop teams from in essence preventing a player's movement in the offseason, in exchange for a higher salary, and then cutting back that salary a few months later.

Let's continue around the NFC North, noting that we addressed the Green Bay Packers earlier Friday morning: