Joique Bell is out of Detroit. The offseason hits hard, and the Bob Quinn era has decided it is time to move in a direction that does not include the hometown running back. With cap considerations and younger players in the backfield, the new regime in Allen Park has decided to part ways with former Wayne State athlete.
Per Field Yates:
Source: the Lions have cut RB Joique Bell.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) February 16, 2016
Joique Bell had a stellar season in 2014, but 2015 proved ineffective at the best of times. After the move from zone running to power under interim OC Jim Bob Cooter, Bell showed flashes in the second half of the season, but nevertheless lost ground in the running back by committee to rookie Ameer Abdullah and backfield passing threat Theo Riddick, while another 2015 rookie, Zach Zenner, is expected back next season.
Bell's release ostensibly comes for cap purposes as well. He would be due $3.5 million against the cap in 2016; by cutting Bell, the Lions must only carry $1 million of that into next season.
Joique Bell's departure is bittersweet. A hometown athlete from Wayne State, Bell was a true underdog story in the NFL, going undrafted and bouncing around practice squads and training camps and small time jobs until he landed in Detroit in 2011. But it would 2014 season when he made his presence felt and became a truly important back as the Lions made the playoffs.
Its unclear if this is a sign that Zenner will get the nod as the third back in the committee or what the ramifications might be for George Winn, another back who will be an unrestricted free agent. It is still possible the Lions might fill Bell's spot in free agency or the draft.