Eagles release Demetress Bell; Sign CFL pass rusher
The Eagles still don't have a defensive coordinator - or any assistant coaches, if you're waiting for confirmation from the team - but they kicked off the annual deluge of offseason roster moves Wednesday by releasing tackle Demetress Bell.
Bell's release did not come as a surprise. Signed to replace the injured Jason Peters, Bell was a terrible fit and started in only five games. The Eagles trimmed $9.6 million from their 2013 salary cap by cutting Bell.
The search for a defensive coordinator, meanwhile, trudged on with only a little more clarity by the end of Wednesday.
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who has been linked to the opening since Chip Kelly was named Eagles coach last month, did little to deny the mutual interest he has with the NFL. He is slated to interview with the New Orleans Saints on Friday, according to various reports.
"I know a lot of people, and I get a lot of inquiries all the time, and there's no way I'm going to comment on any particular one because if I did I wouldn't be able to do my job," Grantham told reporters in Georgia after the Bulldogs announced their recruiting class. "So I'll just leave it at that."
Grantham, 46, has been at Georgia since 2010. He has mostly worked in the NFL over the last decade-plus and was the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns from 2005 to '07. Last year, Grantham released a statement saying he was staying amid rumors that he was up for NFL jobs.
That was a mistake, he said Wednesday. He also said the subject of his leaving after signing day hardly came up with the players he had been recruiting since his name surfaced regarding NFL openings.
"I fully expect to be here," Grantham said. "But as coaches, if things come up, you're always going to say, 'Hey, what's best for your family?' "
The Eagles could be interested in any number of college coaches - Kelly's staff is made up mostly of assistants who came from those ranks - but Grantham's name has not gone away.
At the NFL level, the Eagles interviewed New York Giants linebackers coach Jim Herrmann and Browns linebackers coach Billy Davis. Those are the only two meetings that have been reported. Herrmann took his name out of consideration, and Davis is still looking for a job since he won't likely return to Cleveland.
There was speculation that the Eagles were interested in San Francisco defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, but team sources indicated he was not on their radar. The Saints wanted to interview Donatell after the Super Bowl but were blocked by the 49ers, the NFL Network reported.
Perhaps the Eagles knew that San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh would deny their request and looked elsewhere.
The Eagles were interested in Ravens linebackers coach Ted Monachino, two NFL sources said last week. Monachino said on Jan. 29 that he had not been contacted by any teams. He told The Inquirer after the Super Bowl, however, that Baltimore would not block his leaving for a defensive coordinator position.
The Eagles have not commented on any of their staffing hires, even though close to a dozen have already been reported. Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman, meanwhile, have begun to shape their roster.
Bell signed a five-year, $35 million contract in April, but only the first year was guaranteed. He was probably the best available tackle on the market at the time Peters ruptured his Achilles tendon, but the Eagles did a poor job projecting him in line coach Howard Mudd's aggressive blocking scheme.
Bell struggled with the technique and started in only five games. When the Eagles were forced to play him, he routinely missed blocks.
Canadian Football League defensive end/linebacker Chris McCoy took Bell's place on the roster. The 26-year-old played two seasons for the Calgary Stampeders, recording 29 tackles and five sacks.
McCoy (6-foot-3, 261 pounds) was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round of the 2010 draft out of Middle Tennessee State. He has played in 4-3 and 3-4 schemes. Kelly is expected to employ a defensive system that utilizes both even- and odd-man fronts.
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