According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Bengals are one of a few teams that are interested in looking into what Jackson has left in the tank:
Jackson’s athletic blend of speed, power and pass-catching ability would work well with running back Jacquizz Rodgers’ skills. Jackson is also reportedly coveted by Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Green Bay.
It is the first mention of the Bengals as a serious competitor for Jackson's services, but it makes some sense.
Cincinnati is intent on bringing in another running back via the NFL draft or free agency despite last year's starter BenJarvus Green-Ellis going over 1,000 yards and being one of the best short-yardage backs in the NFL.
The Bengals are likely just doing due diligence on one of the big names on the market, but if the front office likes what it sees, Cincinnati has the most cap space in the NFL to give Jackson what he wants—at least financially.
According to Profootballtalk, Jackson still wants to be the featured back in an offense. Cincinnati utilizes more of a committee approach in the West Coast offense, so it may not be exactly what Jackson is looking for in terms of opportunities.
Jackson rushed for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns last year for 4.1 yards per carry, but saw his playing time reduce thanks to rookies. In Cincinnati, he would split time with Green-Ellis and likely a change-of-pace rookie.
It also helps that Jackson is viable in the passing game, which is a critical requirement for backs in Cincinnati's offense. Last season he caught 38 passes for 321 yards. He ranked as the No. 13 overall running back last season (per ProFootballFocus) and had solid marks in pass-blocking as well—another important factor in Jay Gruden's offense.
Another thing Jackson is said to be looking for is to play for a contender, which is one of the reasons the Atlanta Falcons are reportedly in the lead for his services when the deadline rolls around on Tuesday (per St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
Cincinnati is certainly a contender after making the postseason the past two years, and could be a few correct player personnel decisions away from competing for a championship.
Whether Jackson is one of those correct decisions is difficult to determine.
There was a time when Jackson could have been considered the best back in the NFL. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards in eight of his nine seasons in the league and appears to have some tread left on his tires.
Jackson may not be the ideal fit in Cincinnati given his similarity to Green-Ellis, his age and declining productivity, but it appears the Bengals have some form of interest.
The Bengals have a long way to go on the free-agency journey, but if Jackson and Cincinnati have a mutual interest, do not be surprised to see him in Bengals stripes next season.
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