Image via ClutchPoints.com
Resigned: C.J. Uzomah, TE | 3 years
Resigned: Bobby Hart, OT | 3 years
Resigned: Preston Brown, LB | 3 years
Resigned: Tyler Eifert | 1 year
Signed: B.W. Webb, CB | 3 years
Signed: John Miller, OG | 3 years
Cut: Vontaze Burfict
Resigned: Darqueze Dennard, CB | 1 year
Signed: Kerry Wynn, DL | 1 year
Uzomah resign: B+
Hart resign: C-
Webb signing: C
Miller signing: C+
Brown resign: B-
Eifert resign: A
Burfict release: A
Dennard resign: A
Wynn signing: B
Walton release: A
The Bengals had a quiet free agency for the most part. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t make any moves. Let’s dissect what they did and what it means.
Bengals resign tight end, C.J. Uzomah
The winds have shifted in the tight end room in Cincinnati. It seems that the Bengals are committed to making Uzomah their starting TE over Eifert. However, Tyler Eifert did sign a one-year extension of his own but we’ll get into that soon. Uzomah stepped up this year in Eifert’s absence and proved to be a reliable target as he played through a shoulder injury. Uzomah put up 43 catches, 439 yards, and 3 Touchdowns, all career highs. Uzomah will look to improve on his numbers with a Zac Taylor offense, which is great for a versatile tight end like Uzomah. Both sides are excited that CJ is staying in the queen city.
Bengals resign tackle, Bobby Hart
This nearly put a lot of Bengals fans in the hospital. How could they resign one of the worst tackles in football for *that* much? Why….why. Between Hart’s many, many, MANY, false starts and getting beat off the line it seemed almost a lock that he’d be hitting the open market- or at the very most, be brought back to a one-year extension. There is almost no bright side to this move. However, the Bengals did highly support their move and offered some reasoning. Troy Blackburn, the Bengals Vice President, and Mike Brown’s son-in-law, defended the move to ESPN’s Katherine Terrell. “For those who say you shouldn’t have signed Bobby Hart, who is going to play right tackle? Who? Oh, maybe you’ll draft one in the third round and he’ll come on. Really? You’re going to bet your season on that? We may still draft somebody. We haven’t had the draft yet. But you just can’t criticize. In our business, you have to solve the problem. If you’re not going to play him, tell me who? Trent Brown at 17 million? Really? A seventh-round draft pick? Let go essentially by his team. Really? We can’t go to WalMart and buy off the shelf. A high quality starting right tackle? That doesn’t exist (in free agency). You have to deal in the universe of options you have. We ended up signing eight guys. That’s probably above average. Were they perfect? You’re not going to get perfect. … There aren’t perfect options out there. We asked Willie Anderson if he could go to a time machine and come back at age 25. We’d love to sign him, but you have to deal in your universe of options. I think the data would say we signed more guys than most in line with the cap that we talked about. If there are surprises out there we’ll try to be flexible and aggressive, but normally there are no surprises out there.” Blackburn basically admits that Hart is not a starting caliber tackle and the Bengals wouldn’t mind moving on if they found a better option at what they call a fair price. What is still up in the air however is why Hart is getting paid like a top-tier right tackle if he isn’t one. They are clearly uncomfortable with signing Free Agents and vise versa.
Bengals sign slot corner, B.W. Webb
When news first broke of Webb’s signing, many thought this was signaling the end of fellow slot corner, Darqueze Dennard’s Time here in Cincinnati. But, after not finding what he wanted and progressive contract talks, the Bengals now have good cornerback depth. This is boosted by Webb and second-year corner, Darius Phillips. Webb will presumably be in the queen city for 3 years and maybe find himself a starting job sooner or later with Dennard entering back-to-back contract years. Webb is joining his former secondary coach in New York as first time Bengals in new DC, Lou Anarumo. With Webb’s defensive intelligence and solid man coverage, he will make for a good depth and rotational piece.
Bengals sign guard, John Miller
Millers’s contract is worth $17.1 million with $6.5 million guaranteed at signing and a total guarantee of $7.5 million. Coming over from Buffalo and continuing the Cincy-Buffalo love affair, Miller will at the very least bring depth and solid play as a (likely) starter at Right Guard. Cincinnati likes the fit here and they can’t stop giving out 3-year deals. They want to lock up any (few) free agents they can get. New offensive line coach, Jim Turner had this to say about his new piece. “Oh yeah. I’ve seen him. Tough,” Turner said via Bengals.com. “But I’ve been watching more of the film. The first word that comes into my mind is ‘physicality.’ There’s no substitute on any line for that. It’s contagious. He’s going to be a great fit for what we’re trying to do here.” This says to me that they’re going to stick with the ground game with Mixon. When Mixon is the workhorse for the offense, Dalton does well- or at least doesn’t get in his own way and the offense becomes more dynamic. Miller likely won’t make too much of a noticeable difference but he is certainly an Upgrade along the interior line.
Bengals resign TE, Tyler Eifert
I love this move. Almost no risk involved and the reward for this pays off greatly benefits the Bengals offense. Eifert is a huge redzone threat, having scored 13 TDs in 2015 which was tied for the league lead. He is also a very well-liked teammate and is known for being one of the hardest workers. Eifert is insanely talented and if he stays healthy he is a top ten tight. However, either way, this might be Eifert’s last season in Cincinnati. If he gets injured again or just disappoints, the Bengals would likely move on. Or if Eifert returns to his old self, his value on the open market would likely be too high for the Bengals who also have to pay A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and others.
Bengals resign LB, Preston Brown
They may have overpaid Brown a smidge. However, I’m glad there are incentives involved. He is solid against the run and just needs to stay healthy. He is consistent. But he is also a problem in the pass defense. We still need a coverage LB, or really (and more importantly) a fast, athletic, Linebacker who can do both in stopping the run and defending the pass. This deal shouldn’t affect them drafting an LB in the first 3 rounds, they should. Overall, this was an ok deal. I would’ve paid Brown a little less but it’s good that they set goals for him so he can earn more money. Hopefully, he stays healthy and he can have an expected, Good season.
Bengals release, LB Vontaze Burfict
This was necessary for both sides. Burfict’s play no longer makes up for his on the field drama. Burfict now has 7 career concussions and probably more fines and penalties against him. He looked slow, unathletic, and just not himself in 2018. The Bengals are rebuilding the LB unit and with this move, they cleared Up some money and made a point with Zac Taylor’s new motto of character.
Bengals resign CB, Darqueze Dennard
This was a great resign. Dennard is a reliable slot corner in a league where the slot is becoming more valuable. What’s even better is how much they got him for. Just $5 million for 1 year. But like Eifert, this could be his last year in stripes for the same reason. Dennard keeps the integrity of the starting secondary together and he re-joins fellow first-round picks in William Jackson III and Dre Kirkpatrick.
Bengals sign DL, Kerry Wynn
This is a very underrated move. Wynn is a versatile D-linemen with underrated strength and leverage and is also a special teams contributor. Wynn provides great depth and is a plug and play on situational downs.
Bengals release RB, Mark Walton
What a disappointing scenario that had to play out. The former 2018 4th round pick was arrested for the 3rd time this offseason and consequently was released from the Bengals. Zac Taylor is staying true to his values and is setting an example for the team. The grade for this move would have been lower if this came after the draft, but now this gives them an opportunity to draft another RB in the middle rounds in a deep running back class for depth.
Overall the Bengals didn’t make any splash moves but they did make smart moves. They will need a good draft this year and if they do they could possibly compete for the division and set themselves up for a good future.