I'm going to try and remain neutral in this post because I've already made my thoughts known on this topic since it was first announced.
Byron Bell, slated for left tackle, signs his Carolina Panthers contract | NFL Football | The State
Byron Bell, the team’s starter at right tackle the past three seasons, signed his restricted free agent tender Monday. Bell, 25, undrafted out of New Mexico in 2011, received a second-round tender from the Panthers on March 10, worth $2.187 million. He waited nearly two months before signing it, presumably while he waited to see if other teams were interested. Friday was the deadline for other teams to offer contracts to restricted free agents.
So none of the 31 other teams was willing to pony up a 2nd round pick for a starting left tackle? Or right tackle if you prefer. That seems kind of strange. I mean, he was a pretty good right tackle, right?
Pro Football Focus ranked Bell 52nd among 76 offensive tackles last season, and had him with nine sacks allowed, six quarterback hits and 31 hurries. By comparison, Gross was PFF’s third-rated tackle, with six sacks allowed, one quarterback hit and 22 hurries.
52nd ranked versus 3rd ranked but who's splitting hairs? Besides, having quick feet is a rare quality:
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman believes too much is made of the footwork of left tackles. "People talk about, ‘He’s got left tackle feet. He’s got to have left tackle feet.’ There are only so many elite tackles," Gettleman said last week. "There are plenty of guys playing left tackle in this league that don’t have classic left tackle feet. "If you only had left tackles that had classic left tackle athletic ability there’s only 15 teams that would send an offense out there with 11 guys because the other 15 wouldn’t have a guy to play left tackle."
I do believe there is some truth in what Gettleman is saying and it's not all smoke screen but what else about Bell's game suggests he can be effective at LT? Oh but I digress. At this point I'm going ot shut up about it and see how it plays out. Hopefully we add some depth at OT in the draft and reduce some of the worry about this glaring weakness.
I will give props to Bell though for beating the odds as a UDFA by not only lasting this long but in getting a new contract. He's done enough to warrant that though he may not be considered worthy of a 2nd round pick by the other 31 teams.