— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 13, 2023
Vonn Bell, Carolina Panthers, Agree to Contract
With the 61st pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints selected Bell out of Ohio State. As a Buckeye, Bell helped lead Ohio State to a CFP National Championship with his play. The Saints saw his leadership abilities along with his hard-hitting and took a shot in the second round.
As a rookie, Bell appeared in all 16 games, starting in 14. He finished second on the team with 87 tackles and added four pass breakups and two forced fumbles. In his second year, he appeared in every game again, but only started 10. Bell broke out by leading the much-improved defense with 83 tackles and added another two forced fumbles and 4.5 sacks.
In his third year, Bell again appeared in every game but only started in half. Despite that, he finished with the second-most tackles on the team with 89 and added three pass breakups and a forced fumble. Heading into a contract year, Bell knew that he had to step up and he did just that. In 2019, Bell finished second again in tackles with 89 but finally notched his first-career interception in Week 11 in a win over Tampa Bay. He tallied five fumble recoveries, one of which was a scoop-and-score, and 1.5 sacks.
The Bengals then signed bell to a three-year deal, establishing their identity on defense. In his first year in Cincinnati, Bell led the team with 114 tackles, a career-high, and also forced three fumbles along the way. In 2021, Bell was a massive piece in the Bengals Super Bowl LVI run. During the regular season, Bell finished with the second-mot tackles with 97, eight pass breakups, and an interception. In the playoffs, Bell continued his great play and was the recipient of an interception on the first drive of Overtime in the AFC Championship game which set up the game-winning field goal.
Last year, Bell took a step back in terms of tackles by only recording 77. However, he set a career-high with four, including his first career two-interception game in Week 4 on Thursday Night against the Dolphins. He also forced a pair of fumbles, the second of which was a clutch strip of Rhamondre Stephenson which effectively secured the win for the Bengals. In his three-year career in Cincinnati, he only ever missed one game: Week 18 in 2021 where most of the Bengals veterans sat.
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