Running back Joique Bell is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason, but he doesn't want a one-year tender. Instead, he wants to sign a long-term deal with the Detroit Lions to make sure he stays with his hometown team for the foreseeable future.
On Friday at the NFL Combine, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew commented on the possibility of Bell getting a long-term deal:
#Lions Mayhew on RFA Joique Bell: 'There’s a possibility we might work on long-term deal with him, but either way he’s going to be with us.'— Paula Pasche (@paulapasche) February 21, 2014
Since Bell is a restricted free agent, he will almost certainly be back with the Lions next season. Another team could sign him to an offer sheet at the risk of losing a draft pick if the Lions decide to not match the contract, but that almost never happens nowadays. In other words, if the Lions tender him at a first- or second-round level (giving him $2-3 million for 2014), Bell should be back next season.
Of course, if the Lions are able to work out a long-term deal with Bell, tendering him as a restricted free agent won't be necessary. Bell wants a long-term deal, and the Lions appear to be open to giving him one, so it will just come down to getting the numbers and years to match up.