The Lions and the restricted free agent agreed to a $9.3 million, three-year contract, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The person, who said $4.3 million of the contract is guaranteed, spoke Tuesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced.
Bell had a team-high eight touchdowns rushing last season. He was second to Reggie Bush with 166 carries for 650 yards rushing for the Lions last year. Bell ranked third on the team in each of the last two seasons in Detroit with a combined 105 receptions for 1,032 yards.
While Bush gives Detroit a speedy and shifty threat out of the backfield, the 5-foot-11, 220-pound Bell provides much-needed power.
He has run for 1,064 yards - 4.3 yards per carry - and 11 TDs in two seasons with the Lions. The undrafted free agent from Wayne State University in Detroit played a total of eight games as a rookie in 2010 with the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles.
Bell won the Harlon Hill Trophy as the NCAA Division II Player of the Year after rushing for 2,084 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2009.
Eventually, Bell proved he could make the jump to the NFL.
The Benton Harbor, Mich., native has found a home with the Lions, who signed him off New Orleans' practice squad late in the 2011 season after he bounced around with the Saints, Eagles, Colts and Bills.
In free agency or the draft, the Lions are hoping to add a No. 2 receiver to complement superstar Calvin Johnson, and a safety to start alongside Glover Quin to replace veterans Nate Burleson and Louis Delmas, both of whom were released this offseason.
The Lions would also like to sign Ndamukong Suh to a new contract to avoid having the defensive tackle count more than $20 million against the salary cap this year.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org