Each year, we examine the team's roster heading into training camp and predict which veteran players will miss the cut. Much of the reasoning is cost -- aka, salary cap casualties. Levi Jones would have been a perfect example -- but he was released several months ago. Other times the issue is simply age, allowing the team to turnover into youth. This year's list isn't so much cost, as it is availability, as well being on the chopping block because of age -- a cruel world we live in.
Make sure at the end of the post, you give me your three veteran players that will be axed. The only requirement is that a player has put in at least three years of service with the Bengals, or five years of service in the NFL. Here's my three.
Jeremi Johnson. One could make a theory that when Jeremi Johnson was the team's feature fullback, the Bengals were decent. Johnson having never missed a game between 2003 and 2007, missed all of 2008 after suffering a knee injury before the season started and released in November. While Jeremi played, Rudi Johnson set two single-season franchise rushing records; then leaving Cincinnati with the third most yards rushing in franchise history and second-most touchdowns rushing (more than Corey Dillon and James Brooks in less time).
I'm not saying that Jeremi Johnson is the reason the Bengals were successful rushing the ball -- our offensive line at one point was arguably one of the best in the league. But, one could make that theory.
Daniel Coats, who played tight end coming into the NFL, took over Johnson's role as the team's feature fullback.
Conditioning and weight issues have always been a serious frustration with head coach Marvin Lewis. Johnson has been forced to work with the training staff to get back into football shape during previous training camps. If Johnson keeps that trend, who knows how long Johnson sticks around. During a chat with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Marvin Lewis said that Johnson has "a long way to go to make the team. We don't know how Jeremi will be."
Did you know: In each of his first three seasons, Johnson caught more passes than he did rush attempts. He also scored a receiving touchdown in four of the five seasons he played.
Did you know II: The Bengals are 25-25 in 50 career games that Jeremi Johnson has started.
Antonio Chatman. It's not that he lacks talent. And it's not that he couldn't be useful. However in three injury-filled seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, Chatman has played in 26 of 48 games. His best season (2008) with the Bengals, Chatman recorded 21 receptions and 194 yards receiving. OK, maybe that's not all that useful.
Then you consider the wide receivers he has to compete against to keep a spot on the roster: Chad Johnson, Laveranues Coles, Chris Henry, Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson. Sure, Simpson is a disappointment and Chatman might find himself successfully fighting for that number fifth spot on the roster. I doubt, however, that the Bengals do something with Simpson just to keep Chatman on the roster.
The Bengals also drafted Freddie Brown who, if he makes the roster, would work with rookie Bernard Scott as the team's leading return men. So I doubt that Chatman's history of punt returns will allow him a pass on the roster -- A 7.5-yard-per-return just isn't getting it done. Barring injury, I just don't see how he makes the team.
Kenny Watson. Since last year, the Bengals released Rudi Johnson and Chris Perry, acquired Cedric Benson early in the season, drafted Bernard Scott and traded for Brian Leonard. The team's running back group has seen a significant turnover.
Theoretically, the Bengals could take four running backs -- if that's the case, Watson makes the team. However, in each of the past three seasons, the Bengals have only taken three running backs and one fullback with the lone exception being 2008, when they took two fullbacks.
Projecting that Benson, Leonard and Scott making the squad, I see only a few scenarios in which Watson makes the cut. An injury to one of those three. Or Scott being placed on the practice squad. He does have a reputation of being a decent blocking back. Is that enough to keep Watson on the roster and shift one of the projected candidates to make the squad?
Alright, your turn.