Cincinnati Bengals Veterans Who Have Been Put on Notice This Offseason
An unfortunate reality of the NFL is age, and with it comes the knowledge that players have a limited shelf life that is put in jeopardy annually thanks to the infusion of young talent via the NFL draft.
For the 2014 Cincinnati Bengals, a relatively young roster just got another boost via the draft and free agency. The front office has once again addressed the depth of the roster and created competition at critical spots, which in turn puts some veterans in jeopardy.
It's important to remember that head coach Marvin Lewis loves his veterans, especially if they come complete with quality character. None of the following players are locks to lose their jobs this offseason—it's actually rather unlikely for most—but they have been put on notice by recent roster transactions that show the front office has insurance policies in place.
Let's take a look at veterans who need to keep glancing over their shoulder this preseason in Cincinnati.
For going on a decade, Robert Geathers has been one constant through the good and bad times with the Cincinnati Bengals.
A stout run defender and oft-times disruptor of pockets, the savvy veteran adored by the coaching staff turns 31 this August and comes with a total cap hit of $2.7 million in 2014, per Spotrac.
That's not a major chunk of change by any means, but it is important to remember Geathers only saw action in two games last year before being sent to injured reserve with an elbow injury.
Cincinnati added Sam Montgomery in free agency and Will Clarke via the draft to join a rotation that also includes Margus Hunt, Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry. Geathers is the team's longest-tenured player and a great rotational piece on a deep line, but he's going to have to show in camp he is 100 percent or possibly be let go.
Let's get this out of the way—BenJarvus Green-Ellis is not going to be cut this year.
The Law Firm has one year left on his deal, and while the addition of Jeremy Hill in the second round may suggest otherwise, Green-Ellis' roster spot is safe. He's one of Marvin Lewis' favorite players because of his locker room presence, and Hill dropped as far as he did in part because of character issues.
Not only is Green-Ellis insurance, he'll have a critical role next year guiding the impressionable rookie.
The front office has made it clear that he's going to have to work his tail off in the last year of his deal to land an extension. There is a chance Hill and Giovani Bernard will be the one-two punch by the start of next season, but Green-Ellis has a minimum of one surefire year left and a perhaps major influence on the future of the franchise.
Going on 36 years old, veteran cornerback Terence Newman has yet to truly see his play drop off a significant amount.
Thanks to smart situational usage by the coaching staff, Newman still managed to rank No. 33 out of 110 cornerbacks last season over at Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
But age and injuries are a real concern, which is a big part of the reason the Cincinnati Bengals once again spent a first-round pick on a cornerback, this time Darqueze Dennard out of Michigan State.
Newman is only costing the Bengals $2 million this year, per Spotrac. But if the coaching staff feels Dre Kirkpatrick and Dennard are ready to contribute consistently, not to mention the presence of names like Adam Jones and Leon Hall, Newman may very well be on his way out if he cannot stay healthy or perform at a high level.
Clint Boling was solid last season through 12 games outside of the run-blocking department, but is certainly a replaceable asset for the Cincinnati Bengals at left guard.
Coming off a torn ACL in December, the front office went out of its way to insulate itself from issues at one of the two arguable weak points on the offensive line, the other being center.
The Bengals made a point to place a priority on Mike Pollak in free agency this offseason, and his return means he could start at either left guard or center. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander felt so strongly about Russell Bodine in the draft that the team traded up to nab him at No. 111 overall.
Should Bodine overtake Trevor Robinson and Pollak at center, Boling could very much be out of a starting gig by the time the regular season rolls around.
The Cincinnati Bengals brought back linebacker-safety hybrid Taylor Mays on a one-year deal this offseason, but boy have they made it clear the USC product is going to have to earn his keep.
Mays is coming off a torn labrum and during his recovery has surely watched in horror as his team consistently added similar pieces all offseason.
In free agency it was the addition of former Houston Texans safety Danieal Manning, who is coming off a fractured leg but can play a bevy of spots in the secondary and ranked as PFF's No. 47 safety out of 86 last year (subscription required).
In the draft it was linebacker Marquis Flowers, who compares measurement-wise well to Mays and ideally projects in an identical role as a linebacker-safety hybrid in select packages. There can only be so many of those on one roster, and Flowers is such an impressive athlete he could certainly steal the job.
Go ahead and add in the fact a slower Terence Newman can fill the role as a safety at times and sophomore Shawn Williams figures to take another step in development and it becomes very apparent Mays has a lot to fight for this preseason once healthy.