The Chicago Bears have released running back Kahlil Bell. Bell was about to enter his fourth year with the team. An undrafted free agent out of UCLA, Bell started three of 20 games played in Chicago, rushing 119 times for 557 yards (4.7 yards per carry). He added 137 receiving yards and one touchdown on 20 receptions.
Bell served as the team's third runner last season and started three of the final four contests. He scored his first career touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15 and followed that up by rushing for 121 yards against the Green Bay Packers in Week 16.
Bell has always been a quality special teams player, which was the main reason he was re-signed to a $1.26 million restricted free agent contract this offseason.
Yet it was reported by the Chicago Tribune that the Bears asked Bell to take a $700,000 pay cut today. He refused and asked for his release. So here we are.
This move opens a spot on the roster for a third running back. Armando Allen has been impressive in camp but hasn't shown much in the games. Harvey Unga is still around and has rotated between fullback and running back this offseason. His versatility could be useful.
Yet the player likely to benefit most from this news is Lorenzo Booker. He led the team in rushing yards against the Denver Broncos and returned a kickoff for a 105-yard touchdown against the Washington Redskins. His ability as a returner, on a team that loves return men, could be enough to push him over the edge.
Watch for these running backs tomorrow night when the Bears take on the New York Giants. The one that stands out could be the one that ends up on the 53-man roster.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.