Just when it looked like the Bengals were having an extremely-poor offseason – even for their cheap/incompetent standards – they finished somewhat strong on the free-agent front. They didn’t make any earth-shattering moves, but they made some solid signings. Among that group included five free agents from the outside, and five players that were retained by the Bengals.
The list goes a little something like this:
* CB Jason Allen (6-1, 200) Allen was a first-round pick (No. 16 overall) by the Dolphins in 2006. He has 15 career interceptions during his six NFL seasons (4.5 years with Miami, 1.5 with the Texans). Allen will definitely be in the two-deep at corner and will challenge for a starting spot with Leon Hall coming off a torn Achilles. Nate Clements will be one starting corner and the team is hoping Hall will be back in time for training camp. Allen was a good signing to provide depth. The Bengals will also likely take a corner early in next month’s draft (such as Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick).
* SSDE/DT Jamaal Anderson (6-6, 272) Anderson was the No. 8 overall pick in 2007 by the Falcons. He only has seven sacks in his five-year career, but three of those came last season in his only year with the Colts. Although Anderson has been a disappointment thus far in the NFL, this was a much-needed signing after the Bengals lost a pair of versatile D-linemen in Jonathan Fanene and Frostee Rucker. I especially hated to lose Fanene who was always an underrated player in my opinion. Fanene went to the Patriots and Rucker went to the Browns.
* LT/RT: Anthony Collins (6-5, 315) This signing was great for depth up front as Collins – the Bengals’ fourth-round pick in the 2008 draft – is one of the top backup tackles in the league. If something should happen to Andrew Whitworth on the left side or Andre Smith on the right, it’s a luxury having a guy like Collins waiting in the wings. I thought some team would gobble him up as a starter, so it’s good to see that the Bengals were able to retain his services.
* RB: BenJarvus Green-Ellis (5-11, 215) “The Law Firm” inked a three-year deal and I think he’ll be a solid, not spectacular, addition. He’s not a great running back by any means, but he’s a steady, hard-nosed player who has never fumbled in his three-year NFL career (all with the Patriots). I think the Bengals will go with a three-headed monster at RB this season with Green-Ellis, Bernard Scott and a draft pick. However, that said, I fully expect Green-Ellis to be the unquestioned starter. In 2010 for the Patriots, he had his breakout season with 1,008 rushing yards (4.4 per carry) and 13 touchdowns. In 2011, his numbers dropped to 667 yards (3.7) and 11 scores. By the way, the former undrafted free agent out of ‘Ole Miss is only 26 years old (turns 27 on July 2) and has only logged 510 career carries.
* DE: Derrick Harvey (6-5, 268) Mike Brown loves him some former first-round picks on the cheap. In a stunning similarity to Anderson, Harvey was the No. 8 overall selection in the ’08 draft. Ohio State fans will remember Harvey as the MVP of the 2006 national championship game when he played for Florida and tore up Buckeye offensive tackles all evening. Harvey had a total of eight sacks in his first three seasons in the league – all with the Jaguars. But last year with the Broncos, Harvey only played in five games due to injuries and did not register a sack.
* CB: Pacman Jones (5-10, 185) What a turd. (Also, he’s bad at football.) Wish they didn’t re-sign him. I know there is a need for corners, but Jones represents everything that is wrong with the Bengals. That is all.
* S: Reggie Nelson (5-11, 206) It was extremely important for the Bengals to re-sign Nelson and I’m relieved they were able to pull it off. It looked for a while like he was headed to the Jets. The former first-round pick out of Florida was traded to the Bengals by the Jaguars for cornerback David Jones just before the 2010 season. Nelson was a solid starter for the Bengals the last two seasons and it’s great to know he’s sticking around.
* K: Mike Nugent (5-10, 183) I don’t mind the Bengals using their franchise tag on Nugent this year, but as I blogged about recently, it’s still amazing they didn’t tag Johnathan Joseph last year. If Nugent has a good 2012 season, look for him and the Bengals come to terms on a lucrative (for a kicker) long-term contract. Nugent will make $2.4 million this season.
* DT: Pat Sims (6-2, 335): This was an under-the-radar re-signing that was very important from my point of view. Sims missed the last part of the 2011 season with an injury, but proved he’s a very-effective plugger in the middle. It’s good to see the Bengals were able to come to terms with their 2008 third-round pick.
*RG: Travelle Wharton (6-4, 312): Wharton is penciled in as the Bengals’ starting right guard, but he can play tackle as well. Chances are good he will be strictly a guard for Cincinnati though. Wharton was a third-round pick by the Panthers in 2004 and will be entering his ninth year in the league. By the way, do I think it’s funny the Cowboys went out of their way to sign former Bengal guard Nate Livings? No, I find it outrageously hilarious. Livings couldn’t block a spammer on Twitter. Good riddance to him. I don’t know if Wharton is any better, but he can’t be any worse.
One more thing
From the “No, I’m serious, they really did” files … the Bengals recently signed two scouts. This brings their scouting department up to … two scouts! (Kidding. I think.)
Here is the link from Bengals.com