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The youth movement continued in Cincinnati this offseason, as the Bengals waved goodbye to S Chris Crocker.
Crocker had one year and a base salary of $1.9 million left on his deal, a figure that Bengals brass deemed disproportionate to the contribution he has and is likely to make on-field in 2012.
Crocker may have been mediocre in his time as a Bengal, but his real contribution came in places that the stats don't see, in the locker room and on the practice field.
A veteran presence on an increasingly youthful defense, Crocker has played a vital role in the transition to the next generation. A good character guy and a hard worker, he has served his purpose in Cincinnati.
However, the question as to who replaces Crocker is yet to be answered.
With Taylor Mays, Jeromy Miles and Robert Sands on the depth chart, the smart money would be on USC alum Mays stepping up. He has all the athletic ability and then some but needs to reign in his physicality and become more consistent and more scheme-smart.
The potential is there, and his progression in 2012 will prove an exciting prospect for Bengals fans.
Cincy could still address the position in the draft, with Alabama's Mark Barron headlining the class and likely to still be around at 17.