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.
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.
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.
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.