Joique Bell's four years in Detroit came to an end on Tuesday when the Detroit Lions released the veteran running back. The move was highly motivated by saving cap space, as Bell was due $3.5 million in 2016 and the Lions saved $2.5 million of that by releasing him. Many, too, believed the Lions were just ready to move on from the declining back, but a report from WWJ Newsradio 950's Russ McNamara claims that isn't completely true:
Talking with Joique Bell today as he's inducted into the @waynestwarriors Hall of Fame - he says he's gotten some interest from NFL Teams.— Russ McNamara (@McNamaraWWJ) February 20, 2016
Didn't want to say who. Also said he turned down an offer from the Lions before being cut. "Had to do what was best for my career"— Russ McNamara (@McNamaraWWJ) February 20, 2016
Clarification: Joique said he has to do what is best for his FAMILY. Not career. Shoddy memory by me.— Russ McNamara (@McNamaraWWJ) February 21, 2016
I will never fault a player for betting on himself. An NFL career is short and players should absolutely to do everything they can to get paid before it ends. That being said, this move does seem a bit perplexing on Bell's part. As a 29-year-old running back coming off his worst season since arriving in Detroit, there likely isn't a huge market for him. Even if Bell has received the interest he claims to have received, it will be an uphill battle to find the right team and battle his way onto a 53-man roster.
With Detroit, Bell had familiarity and a clear role with the organization, not to mention a hometown crowd that loved him. While Bell said he hasn't completely ruled out a return to Detroit it seems highly unlikely at this point. Bell won't get a huge contract from any other franchise and it's equally improbable that he turns around and accepts Detroit's offer.
In the end, Bell won't look back on this decision and regret it. The risk may not pay off, but as a player toward the end of his career it was a decision he felt he had to make.