2020’ #RunItBack campaign described the Kansas City Chiefs’ push to re-sign a vast majority of the contributors from the 2019 Super Bowl champion team. One of the few players who didn’t come back for the next season was tight end Blake Bell. A free agent, he decided to sign with the Dallas Cowboys.
A year later, Bell has returned to Kansas City. The 29-year old signed with the Chiefs on March 18 — and on Wednesday, he used his introductory press conference to explain his path back to the team with which he earned a Super Bowl ring.
“With the free agency stuff and just how crazy everything is, you never know what’s going to happen,” Bell told reporters. “My agent talked to the front office of the Chiefs — and once he said that, it was a no-brainer. I wanted to get back. Great front office, great coaches, great fan base — and with my uncle playing there and just growing up a Chiefs fan, it was a no-brainer.”
In 2020, Bell totaled 110 yards on 11 catches — including a career-high with seven first down conversions.
While he played through a rough season with the Cowboys, Bell had his eye on his former team and teammates. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce had a historic season — and Bell noticed.
“It was incredible,” Bell described. “I wasn’t surprised at all, just because I’ve been in the room with him and have seen the way he competes and the way he works every single day. It was no surprise to me. That guy is the best tight end in the league and I can’t wait to get back in the room with him.”
The Chiefs may also be giddy to get Bell back. Last season, the Chiefs trusted Nick Keizer to take the majority of the snaps as the second tight end. But there wasn’t as much trust in Keizer as there had been in Bell. In 18 2019 games, Bell earned 458 total snaps — while Keizer only saw 340 in 19 2020 games.
The secondary tight end position was utilized more heavily in 2019 than it was 2020, too. The Chiefs ran 12 personnel — formations with two tight ends and a running back —on 28% of their plays in 2019. In 2020, that rate dipped to 18%, per Sharp Football Stats.
Bell’s return may lead to a resurgence in those types of formations.
“12 personnel is awesome,” Bell laughed. “Obviously I love it because you get more tight ends out there. With a guy like Travis who is so good at everything out there, when I’m out there I’m just trying to make the team better. If my role is to block that six-technique and make the run spring for 50 yards or get a first down, then I love it. That’s why I’m pumped to come back to Kansas City — and whatever my role is, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.”
His role doesn’t stop with being a tight end. In 2019, he played nearly 50% of the regular- season special teams snaps — roughly the same number that Keizer played in 2020.
Bell is back in Kansas City for a lot of reasons, but one of the most important has to be the coaching staff. He gushed over the culture that head coach Andy Reid has built.
“The biggest thing with Coach Reid is the people he puts around him,” Bell explained. “The coaches, the staff — and then you can tell with the players too. The locker room and how great it is. Being different places, you really respect coming back and knowing the guys in the locker room. Coach Reid is unbelievable, he’s just a mastermind — and with coach Bieniemy and all the coaches on the offensive side that I deal with, they’re unbelievable. They’re teachers of the game and they want to get you better as a player.”
There’s a reason the Chiefs have signed Bell. They may not have been satisfied with what Keizer gave them last season — or they may have simply wanted another player in the group who was familiar with the offense. Who knows? There could still be a tight end in the Chiefs’ draft plans, too.
Either way, Bell sounds ecstatic to be back in the red and gold — and is ready to fit into whatever role he’s given.