Cincinnati Bengals Most Under and Overrated Offseason Moves
The Cincinnati Bengals have made some surprising offseason moves this year.
From a tight end surprise in the first round, to an Estonian discus thrower in the second, and even a Pittsburgh Steeler, the Bengals have added a wealth of colour to their roster.
But, while some will be valuable additions, others are destined to be flops.
Let's take a look at some of the Bengal's most overrated and underrated offseason moves.
Overrated: James Harrison
James Harrison comes to Cincinnati in the twilight of his storied career.
His addition came as somewhat of a surprise. There is, perhaps, no other player who embodies the current Steelers identity than James Harrison, and now, he's a Bengal.
He's been slowed by a multitude of injuries to just about every part of his body in the last few years, but clearly, that's more about age than health. It's definitely a concern, though.
So how much does he actually bring to Cincinnati? Does he buy into the system?
Are the Bengals just an opportunity to pick up one last paycheck whilst staying close to home?
These are all questions to be answered of the coming months.
The Bengals linebacker core has some great depth, Emmanuel Lamur, Sean Porter, Vincent Rey and Jayson DiManche are all fighting for spots behind the likely starters. It'll give fans worried about Harrison's health piece of mind.
Underrated: Adam Jones
When Adam Jones re-signed this offseason, many of us were pleased.
Since then, he's added another arrest to his resume leading some to backtrack somewhat.
For Bengals fans, it's as though Jones is our unruly 10-year-old child. He keeps making mistakes, yet we continue to fight in his corner because we know he's got some good inside him.
He still has a lot to give on the field, and you'll struggle to find a player in Cincinnati who cares more about the game than him.
If you cast your mind back to the first playoff loss to Houston and Andre Johnson's TD, you'll remember it was Jones on the coverage. As much as it hurt to concede the points, it was pleasing to see how upset Jones was. It showed he was really putting everything into this.
That was reflected in his performance last year. He doubled his game time, and he doubled his production.
Despite his legal troubles, Jones is someone the Bengals want on this roster. He plays his role, and he plays it well.
Overrated: Brandon Tate
Brandon Tate re-signed with the Bengals back in March causing an outbreak of head-scratching.
Tate has underwhelmed in Cincinnati, and while he now holds the franchise record for punt return yards, that really says more about how bad the Bengals have been in the return game than how good he has been.
Let's take a look at the stats, according to NFL.com:
Tate is entering his third season with the Bengals. Last season, he caught 13 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown, averaged 24.8 yards on 32 kickoff returns and 8.9 yards on 21 punt returns. He has a Bengals career average of 10.1 yards on punt returns, currently tops in club history.
He's serviceable, and there's nothing wrong with that.
His offensive potential is often highlighted as his extra attribute, but he's barely made an impact in Cincinnati. With the receiving core freshly stacked, the justification for keeping him is evaporating.
Underrated: Rey Maualuga
Bringing back Rey Maualuga on a two-year deal was a controversial decision.
He's the proverbial scapegoat in Cincinnati and takes a lot of flak from fans and pundits alike.
But, re-signing him was an underrated move.
The Bengals linebacking core has gone through a lot of changes of late. Vontaze Burfict is a great addition, but he's not ready to lead in his second year. James Harrison is a veteran who needs time to adapt to a different system in Cincinnati. Behind them, there's a fair amount of youth.
If you pull Maualuga out, you lose the philosophy of that unit. You lose the cohesiveness.
Maualuga is the bridge. Two years from now, his job will be done, and he'll probably move on.
His play may not be spectacular, but for now, the Bengals just want him to hold everything together, rather than shine.
Overrated: Margus Hunt
Boom or bust.
That just about sums it up for Margus Hunt.
The addition of the former discus-thrower from Estonia continues to strike me as a strange move.
I did wonder how much research Mike Zimmer had done when he confused Estonia for Croatia in the post-draft press conference...
At 6'8", Hunt is nothing short of a giant. The Bengals have always had a love affair with tall players, and Hunt brings an incredible kick-blocking ability with that.
Whether he can ever be anything more than that remains up for debate. Hopefully, we will see on Hard Knocks in August.
He's undeniably a project player. If there's anyone who can turn him into a DE, it's Zimmer. But, how much longer is Zim going to be in Cincinnati?
A new defensive coordinator in his second season could be hugely detrimental for Hunt's development.
The potential is there, but it's questionable whether he will ever live up to his second-round tag.
Underrated: Terence Newman
He may have been a lightning rod in his first season, but many were thankful to have him in year two.
Terence Newman was a steady and reliable corner for the Bengals in 2012, racking up 75 tackles in total.
He filled in admirably when injuries piled up and made fewer mistakes than the previous year.
With Dre Kirkpatrick's status still up in the air, bringing Newman back is a smart move by the Bengal's front office (especially given Jones' recent troubles).
It may not carry much weight on the field, but he's also a class act and a very funny guy, too. Check out Dave Dameshek's podcasts and videos with him. He's one of the NFL's true good guys and a credit to the roster.
Overrated: The Backup QBs
Josh Johnson and John Skelton provide little excitement behind Andy Dalton in 2013.
That's not to suggest that Bruce Gradkowski did either.
Skelton won some games in Arizona. Johnson knows Gruden and the system.
That's about as spectacular as it gets.
The reality of the situation is that if Andy Dalton goes down, so does the Bengal's 2013 season.
So why not make things a little more interesting?
Invite JaMarcus Russell to training camp and let him compete with the other two. He certainly has more upside than Johnson and a battle with Skelton would be great for Hard Knocks.
I don't buy the argument that he would be a distraction. I'm confident that Andy Dalton is and will continue to be the starter on this team.
Hopefully, Russell would never have to step up and play. If Dalton went down injured, it would be more intriguing to watch Russell take a stab at it than Skelton.
Underrated: Andre Smith
Andre Smith has not done a good job of impressing anyone since signing his new three-year $18 million contract, and he's a very easy target.
He missed the Bengal's OTA sessions and skipped all of their mandatory minicamp.
But, based on last year's performance, there's still hope.
We didn't talk about Smith a lot during 2012, and that was a good thing. He was finally living up to his first-round tag. He was arguably one of the best right tackles in the league last year.
If Smith's contribution is as good this year, we'll be thankful for the character flaws that drew him no interest from the league's other 31 teams during free agency.
Bringing him back is absolutely vital to getting Andy Dalton the protection he needs, while playing alongside Kevin Zeitler has really helped to bring out the best in the rotund right tackle.
If Smith arrives at training camp in shape and ready to go, all will be forgiven and forgotten.