PALM BEACH, Fla. – Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey likes Demetrius Bell, the team’s young left tackle who is on the unrestricted free-agent market and reportedly will visit the Green Bay Packers next week.
“He’s got some talent, he’s got good feet. He’s still a young player in football terms because he hasn’t played a lot of football,” Gailey said Tuesday morning at the AFC coaches breakfast at the NFL Meetings at The Breakers resort. “He’s battled injury, but he’s a good man, and he’s got talent. We’ve been talking to him all along, but they just, I don’t know what they’re looking for right now.”
What it appears Bell is looking for is a good contract and perhaps a fresh start. Demetrius Bell, OT. A strong performance last season would have put him in position for a big payday as a free agent, but he instead started only six games due to injuries – the story of his career. He started all 16 games in 2010 but was only able to make eight starts in 2009 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He did not play in 2008, when he was the Bills’ seventh-round pick out of Northwestern (La.) State.
Bell, who turns 28 on May 4, is the son of former NBA superstar Karl Malone and was a basketball player who didn't start playing football until he was in college at Northwestern State.
Buffalo radio station WGR 550 AM reported that the 6-foot-5, 311-pound Bell has a visit to Green Bay scheduled for next week, but the Packers have not confirmed that.
Bills GM Buddy Nix told SiriusXM NFL Radio Monday afternoon that “Demetrius wanted to test the market I think and we told him to go ahead and do that. We made him an offer and didn’t hear anything back from him so I assume they’re looking for something else.”
The Packers’ interest in Bell could be a sign the team will part ways with veteran Chad Clifton, who played in just six regular-season games last season because of injuries. The league’s oldest starting left tackle entering last season, Clifton’s base salary for 2012 is $5.25 million, but he doesn’t have any roster bonuses scheduled to be paid soon that would force the Packers to decide on his future. He underwent back surgery after the season.
The Packers went with Marshall Newhouse and Bryan Bulaga at tackle most of the season, with Newhouse filling in for Clifton on the left side when Bulaga returned from injury. Newhouse also replaced a rusty, ineffective Clifton in the NFC Divisional Playoff loss to the New York Giants when Clifton was benched.
The Packers’ interest could also be a sign that they’re concerned about 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod, who suffered a broken leg Dec. 18 at Kansas City and may not be ready for the season after emergency surgery.
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