NFL: Ex-Buckeyes Might Be Right Fit for Bengals and Browns in Free Agency

Derek TalibContributor IIIMarch 3, 2011

Vernon Gholston in his Natural Position
Vernon Gholston in his Natural PositionDavid Maxwell/Getty Images

The Bengals are moving on without Carson Palmer and are content to let him sit out his four years if he wants too. The Browns have switched to a 4-3 defense and abandoned their attempts to be the Ravens and Steelers.  Available Buckeye players may be a great fit for both of those situations.

Vernon Gholston was a bust as a 3-4 hybrid linebacker but that does not mean he is a bust as an NFL player.  As a 4-3 defensive end Gholston could find his swagger playing in familiar territory. Gholston was a bust as a top 10 draft pick, but could be a steal as a cheap free agent. 

His physical presence and ability are undeniable, but not every hybrid can make the transition from having their hand in the dirt. If Vernon does not have to think and can be free to play instinctively he would be able to just react.

The worst case scenario: Cleveland pulls the trigger and he remains a bust. However, his price tag will make him the ultimate low risk/high reward acquisition.

In Cincinnati they are going to draft a quarterback to take the reins from Carson Palmer. Blaine Gabbert is going to be available early in the draft,  but he is still a spread quarterback. Gabbert has a lot to learn at the next level and no matter how good he is there will be an adjustment period. Troy Smith is sitting out there and is ready to play, why not take him?

Accuracy and all the knocks that came from  San Francisco about Troy Smith are unfair and almost ignorant.  How many quarterbacks come in as late as he did and can win a game? The mere fact that he was able to still win games, with only a quarter of the playbook and reps, is a testament to his ability.

He went two for six in starts this year which basically means he won half as many games as Carson Palmer did without half the knowledge of the offense.

People are knocking Smith's accuracy as he only completed 45 percent of his passes down the stretch, but he was out there playing on instinct alone. He was not familiar with the offense, nor was he familiar with the receivers. The Bengals were 4-12 with their high priced, in every camp with the same offense, first round draft pick out of USC. 

The 49ers went 6-12 with a dysfunctional team and head coach that could not make up his mind on who to start. Two of the wins the 49ers had were fourth quarter come-from-behind wins because of Troy Smith.

Troy Smith is a leader and that is one fact that cannot be disputed.  If the Bengals add Troy Smith then draft their future long term quarterback, they can be competitive this year.  Troy’s mobility would complement the Bengals developing o-line. 

Similar to when John Kitna was a starter and Carson Palmer was a back up, Troy can lead the team while the future QB learns.  Economically this makes all the sense in the world.

Troy Smith, like Vernon Gholston, can be added for little to no real compensation. Unlike Carson Palmer, he wants to play in Ohio. Sometimes homerism is warranted when it makes financial and situational sense.

Financially the Brown family is not looking to spend a lot of money and need a stop-gap if they draft a QB. Smith is better than both quarterbacks currently on the roster. With cost not being a factor there is no reason not to give Troy Smith a chance to succeed in his home state.