Jason Campbell to Bengals: Latest Contract Details, Analysis and Reaction

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIMarch 19, 2014

USA Today

Jason Campbell was released this offseason but will stay in the AFC North division after striking a one-year contract agreement to play for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2014.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the news on Wednesday, and the network's Josina Anderson noted that Campbell was planning to take his physical in Cincinnati the following morning:

The Bengals confirmed the deal on the team's Twitter account:

ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio confirmed the signing and noted that it came down to Campbell and former Cincinnati backup Ryan Fitzpatrick. Florio also weighed in on what Campbell's signing means for the Bengals:

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the decision came down to Campbell and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who once was a backup in Cincinnati to Carson Palmer.  In 2008, Fitzpatrick started 12 games while Palmer was hurt.  Campbell will provide a veteran presence on the Bengals in a clear backup role, without Campbell threatening to take Andy Dalton’s job.  And it will give Andy Dalton the support he needs as he tries to find a way not to just get to the playoffs but to win a playoff game.

This move almost makes too much sense. Cincinnati needed a backup quarterback who can mentor young signal-caller Andy Dalton and perhaps step in for spot starting duties. Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson held the same position with the Oakland Raiders in 2010 and helped Campbell average a career-best 7.28 yards per attempt in 13 games that season.

Campbell's next season was cut short after just six games, which was also when Jackson took over as head coach. The Raiders' brain trust then opted to trade for then-Cincinnati QB Carson Palmer but only held onto him through 2012.

Every season brings about a lot of change, but it does help that Campbell is familiar with Jackson's system and has at least some knowledge of the divisional landscape.

The Cleveland Browns released Campbell on March 12, and general manager Ray Farmer remarked about the 32-year-old's NFL pedigree, per a statement through the Browns' official website: "We appreciate Jason’s contributions to the Browns in 2013. He’s a respected veteran player in this league. We felt like at this time, early in the free-agency period, we would give him a better opportunity to move forward. We wish Jason the best in his future endeavors."

This past season, Campbell threw for 2,015 yards and 11 touchdowns against eight interceptions in nine games. The former first-round pick had flashes of brilliance but did not perform well enough to keep the Browns competitive down the stretch.

An elongated delivery, a willingness to check the ball down too soon and injury issues have all played a factor in Campbell not living up to his high draft billing. Then again, he's never been in an ideal position to succeed, with a ton of offensive scheme changes early in his career curbing his development.

At least now he is entering a situation where he knows the system and terminology coming in. Given how well he played at times when healthy in 2013, there's at least a chance that Campbell could push Dalton in training camp if he doesn't show significant improvement.

Josh Katzowitz of CBS Sports hinted at that in his take on the signing:

The Bengals have made the playoffs in all three of Dalton's seasons but have lost in the Wild Card Round each time. Dalton's underwhelming play has been a hot-button topic, as he's thrown one touchdown to six interceptions with a 56.2 passer rating in the postseason.

It's not as if Campbell has ever done anything in the playoffs, though, so this seems like more of a safe, low-risk signing that has him clearly fated for a backup role—especially since it's just a one-year commitment.