Let's play the speculation game for a moment. A topic that's been weighted on these pages before, added with a hint of speculation. And by a hint of speculation, we really mean Nostradamus-like proclamations.
By not selecting a prospect on the defensive front during the 2011 NFL Draft, it may have announced the team's intention in keeping defensive ends Antwan Odom and Robert Geathers -- two highly paid defensive ends that we've projected could play for another team this offseason. Odom and Geathers are apart of a defensive end roster which includes Carlos Dunlap, Frostee Rucker, Victor Adeyanju and Michael Johnson. And in Johnson's case, his role is as unknown as assuming that the Bengals will actually start the season against the Cleveland Browns on September 11 with the labor dispute.
Making the bold predictions that we're hardly known for, the Bengals defensive end roster, based on what the roster looks like today, could likely look like this: Odom, Geathers, Dunlap, Rucker and Jonathan Fanene; a free agent we expect that the Bengals will re-sign when they're allowed.
Odom is scheduled to make $9.8 million over the course of the next two seasons after originally signing a five-year deal in 2008 that awarded him $29.5 million with $11.5 million guaranteed. And through his first three seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, Odom has missed 26 of 48 games due to injuries and a four-game suspension for violating the league's illegal substance policy. Additionally, his production has left a lot to be desired, posting 11.0 quarterback sacks (most of which came against a backup guard during a five-sack effort against the Green Bay Packers in 2009).
The same mostly applied to Robert Geathers. After posting 10.5 quarterback sacks 2006, the team rewarded him with a six-year contract worth $33.75 million and $12.5 million guaranteed. And since signing the contract, all Geathers has managed to do is equal his 2006 sack totals since, posting 10.5 quarterback sacks from 2007-10. We might be a little unfair with Geathers, who is more noted for defending the rush rather than rushing the passer, but also leads the team with 57 quarterback pressures and 19 quarterback hits since 2008.
Obviously if the Bengals added a defensive end or two during the NFL Draft, it could have opened up the possibility that the team will move on from Odom. There is a possibility that by selecting outside linebacker Dontay Moch in the third round, it opened the possibility that Michael Johnson stays at defensive end while Moch replaces him as the pass rushing outside linebacker. Most reports seem to indicate that Moch's participation on defense will be extremely limited, while he begins his NFL career as a special teams player. That doesn't mean this scenario doesn't return after the 2011 season, heading into Odom's final season under contract.