Free Agent Idiocy – Kendrell Bell

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Free agency is often a time of optimism for football fans, and for good reason. If your team is maybe one or two good players away, then upgrading that position via free agency has you planning Super Bowl parades in February.

However, history has shown that free agency can be a dicey proposition – and sometimes it can bottom out completely. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t all for it at the time – which simply reinforces the fact that I’m an idiot and my dominance in Franchise mode on Madden doesn’t translate in the real world.

The first installment of this series is when the Chiefs signed Kendrell Bell – and how I told EVERYONE who would listen that the Chiefs were headed for the championship.

Player Profile

Kendrell Bell was a 2nd-round pick out of Georgia for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2001. The Steelers were very good in 2001 (13-3) and lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Bell was named the AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year, totaling 9 sacks and 83 total tackles.

Injuries started to impact Bell’s performance the next year, but he returned strong for his 3rd year, having 99 tackles and 5 sacks.

His knee continued to be an issue, and he basically missed all of the 2004 season, playing only 3 games.

Chiefs Situation

The Chiefs were coming off a 7-9 season in 2004, and their linebacker corps was composed of Scott Fujita, Shawn Barber and Kawika Mitchell.

In case you don’t recall (or blocked it out) that group wasn’t good. Fujita was slow. Barber was broken down and had TERRIBLE instincts. And Kuwika is STILL a running joke for how bad he would bite on play-action and bootlegs.

So Bell was definitely an upgrade.

Or so I thought.

The Contract

7 years, $35 million, $10 million guaranteed


Bell actually managed to stay healthy for his first two seasons with Kansas City, playing all 16 games each year. However, he was simply a shell of his former self in terms of production, totaling 90 tackles and only 2.5 sacks in 2005-2006.

2007 he was somehow worse, playing 11 games and totaling only 8 tackles. EIGHT TACKLES. Stephen Cheek, the punter (!), had 6 tackles.


Mercifully, Bell was released after the 2007 season, and he retired due to injuries. What should have been a massive upgrade turned out to be a huge money sink for the Chiefs, and the salary cap was negatively impacted for two additional years with dead money.


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NM_ChiefsFanstjoechiefTony SommerDadBodTeesupamtn Recent comment authors
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Nice write up. Bell was one of those “gambling on return from injury” signings (see Breeland, Brashaud) that are home runs when they hit and total whiffs when they don’t. The thing that made the Bell signing so bad was that it was a big contract for the time with significant dead money. Almost like another, more recent LB contract I can think of….

Tony Sommer

That 2005 team was sneaky good. Arguably the best team between Joe Montana and Patrick Mahomes. If he had played up to his contract we may have won the Super Bowl that year.


I told EVERYONE who would listen that the Chiefs were headed for the championship

ooops …


I admit I was pumped when he came here as well. That being said, I have completely forgotten about him until this post.


Nice idea for a series. I was stoked when we got him too. Which clearly shows that as a Monday morning GM, I too am a fool. 8 tackles in 11 games? How is that even possible for a LB?. I don’t even remember the name Stephen Cheek, which is weird.


I didn’t remember Cheek, either. I looked him up: in 11 games, he had 42 punts…if he made 6 tackles, that doesn’t speak very well for the special teams’ performance.