The Philadelphia Eagles agreed to sign tackle Demetress Bell to a five-year deal Wednesday to try to fill the void left by injured Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, who ruptured his Achilles tendon late last month while working out in Texas.
Bell, a seventh-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in the 2008 draft, started 30 games at left tackle for the team. He started six games in 2011, a season shortened for the 6-foot-5, 311-pound lineman by a shoulder injury.
The 27-year-old Bell didn't play organized football until he went to Northwestern State on a basketball scholarship. He joined the football team as a defensive end after redshirting as a freshman and switched to the offensive line a year later.
"Demetress is a guy we've followed since he joined the league," general manager Howie Roseman said. "He's a big, athletic left tackle and he has quite a few games of experience under his belt with Buffalo. He'll excel with our style of play on the offensive line."
Bell previously had spelled his first name "Demetrius" but the Eagles made note of the proper spelling in the statement announcing they had agreed to terms on a contract.
"Demetress was one of the top free agent offensive linemen available this year and we are happy to be able to add him to our squad," Eagles coach Andy Reid said in the statement. "We had a chance to meet him over the weekend and study him extensively on tape and we came away quite impressed with what we saw and heard. He's a great athlete."
Peters also came to the Eagles via Buffalo. The Eagles acquired the 30-year-old tackle in a trade with Buffalo for three draft picks before the 2009 draft. He has been named to every Pro Bowl since 2007.
He had surgery to repair his ruptured Achilles on Tuesday morning.
According to Dr. Michael Kaplan, ESPN's medical analyst, Peters' ankle likely would be immobilized for two to four weeks, and he would undergo physical therapy for motion and strengthening for several months. He likely will miss a minimum of four to six months of football activity.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.