Bell, Whitehurst and waiting games

Signing restricted free agents to offer sheets can require patience and discipline.

The Saints could choose to make the Eagles wait a full week before matching or not matching the offer sheet Philadelphia signed with New Orleans running back Mike Bell. Seattle had also shown interest in Bell.

Bell was an easy target because the Saints retained only right of first refusal. Philadelphia will not have to part with a draft choice if New Orleans declines to match.

Compensation is only part of the equation. The time element can also be central in these situations.

If the Cardinals signed Chargers RFA Charlie Whitehurst to an offer sheet, for example, the other quarterback on their radar, Derek Anderson, might sign elsewhere before Arizona even knew if San Diego would match the Whitehurst offer.

Teams signing players to offer sheets can become a double losers under those circumstances.