Joique Bell is six weeks away from testing the open market as a restricted free agent, but the Lions running back said Wednesday, after appearing in the Broadway play “Rock of Ages,” that he hopes he doesn’t get there, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports.
“I understand how the business works,” Bell said. “I would like to just bypass all this and just sign a long-term deal, just knock it out. I don’t want to go anywhere, I know the fans don’t want me to go anywhere, I know the team doesn’t want me to go anywhere, the front office doesn’t want me to go anywhere. So let’s make this (happen). Honestly, let’s just make this happen.”
Bell emerged as a reliable all-purpose threat in the Lions’ backfield this season, sharing time with Reggie Bush.
Because he went undrafted out of Wayne State, the Lions probably will have to give Bell a first- or second-round tender worth between $2 million and $3 million to keep other suitors at bay. By tendering Bell a contract, the Lions would have the right to match any offer he receives from another team or get a draft pick as compensation.
“That’s out of my hands right now,” Bell said. “Only thing I can focus on is get ready for next season. Like I said: I love this franchise, I grew up watching it, I worked here, I always dreamed of playing here, and now I’m playing here, so let’s make the best of it. I relish in these opportunities.”
“I don’t know how it will evolve,” Bell said. “I know our running backs coach stayed here, so we still have him. We still have our O-line coaches, so I don’t know if they’re going to change at all. I think it might be the same. We did a great job last (year), the 1-2 punch with me and Reggie, and hopefully, we can continue that this upcoming football season.”