Rather than accept a pay cut of more than $500,000, Kahlil Bell opted to become a free agent tonight.
The Chicago Bears will place the running back on waivers after the decision was made. Bell actually flew with the team to Newark, N.J., for the preseason game Friday night against the Giants, according to Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune. He turned around at the airport to return to Chicago.
A restricted free agent, Bell was due to earn $1.26 million this season. But with the team heavily invested in Matt Forte and Michael Bush, it became apparent that might not happen. The Bears offered Bell a contract for $700,000 and he refused, per McClure.
“There's no sense in taking a paycut," Bell told McClure. "I had a great experience here in Chicago. I definitely wanted to remain a Bear. Hopefully, I’ll get an opportunity to play somewhere."
That is the key for Bell. He was the third running back behind Chester Taylor and Marion Barber and then when the Bears brought in Bush this season, it became apparent he’d be no better than third on the depth chart in 2012. Now, he’ll set out to find a better opportunity elsewhere.
The Bears are considering Armando Allen and Lorenzo Booker for their third running back job. Allen might be the favorite at this point.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune