In the wake of the news of cornerback Adam Jones' return to Cincinnati's 53-man roster for this Sunday's game against Seattle, it got our internal wheels turning about which player will be shown the door to make room for him. We hate to play "the guessing game", but sooner or later this conversation has to be had. Now technically, the Bengals don't have to worry about this decision until next week. With Cedric Benson's one-game suspension being served this Sunday, Jones takes up a roster spot that is vacant, but only for this week.
So, if Jones is indeed healthy and shows that he can contribute to the 2011 squad, who becomes a roster casualty next week? The first place to look is the position group that Jones belongs to. At cornerback, the two names that jump to mind as expendable would be Kelly Jennings and Morgan Trent. Jennings has been nicked up most of the season, only appearing in a few games and not really making much of an impact. However, the Bengals traded for him this offseason, so they clearly value what he brings to the table.
So, that could mean the release of Morgan Trent. If we all remember, Trent was party to a very quirky situation this offseason where it was announced that he was released, then the team backtracked saying it was a mistake, Trent was healthy and was on the roster. Trent is one of those players who frustrates the fans because the potential is there and he's made plays in games, but we've also seen him get beat at times. When it's all said and done, every team needs a plethora of good corners, so Trent may not be the victim after all.
Moving from there, one could look at a very crowded safety position. Beyond the starters of Chris Crocker and Reggie Nelson, there's a sea of uncertainty. Gibril Wilson contributes on special teams here and there, but was on the roster bubble earlier this year. The team clearly values youngsters Robert Sands and Taylor Mays because of the physical specimens that they are, but they are raw. Is their potential enough to keep them around? Maybe.
Another name that seems to keep popping up is that of running back, Cedric Peerman. The Bengals rarely keep four running backs on the 53-man roster, but opted to do so in 2011 for various reasons--injuries to guys like Jones being one. Peerman seems to be a "Charlie Hustle" type of player, doing whatever is asked of him to keep his roster spot. We've seen him run well in the preseason, and we saw him lay one of the best blocks in a while on special teams in the last game. But, will the Bengals allow Peerman the opportunity to prove his worth this Sunday by getting him some touches in Benson's absence? We'll see.
Ultimately, a lot of what's riding on the decision of who to release for Jones lies in the game this Sunday. We don't know what we'll see from Adam Jones after a year off of NFL football. We've heard that he's looked well in practice this week, but tackling people is much different than tackling dummies, and there is also a thing called "being in game shape". We also don't know who's going to shine this week, be it Peerman, Trent or one of the safeties I mentioned. Whoever it is, it won't be an easy cut, as all the above-mentioned players can contribute to this squad.
So, who do you think that the Bengals should release next week with Adam Jones' return?