We're not afraid to admit our offseason plans with our awesome readers, spending day and night joining us in our full time obsession about the Cincinnati Bengals. We'll be around to discuss how the Carson Palmer story pans out; as if you totally didn't think we wouldn't. We'll also provide constant updates and commentary on free agent Cedric Benson, who is the top offensive priority. But we believe the biggest offseason story when the new league year begins, is what happens with Johnathan Joseph. Not only does it feature one of the team's best players, it leaves a possible domino affect.
According to ESPN Insider John Clayton, it "might be hard" for the Bengals to re-sign cornerback Johnathan Joseph who "will be in big demand in free agency."
If they lose him, they better sign Leon Hall to a big contract extension, so they don't lose him, too. The good news is the Bengals have the cap room to keep both.
Joseph leaves and then what? Then the Bengals have to name a starter. But Adam Jones shouldn't be an automatic choice to replace him just yet.
Consider he's coming off a major neck injury, only played 14 games in the past four years, Jones had his share of problems. When Joseph sat with an injury against the Atlanta Falcons, Jones made his first start since October 12, 2008. And he didn't do well during his only start last year. Five passes were attempted to receivers he covered. All five were caught, including two touchdowns for an opposing quarterback rating of 158.3. Jones would later suffer a neck injury that ended his season. For the season, Jones allowed opposing receivers to haul in 62.5% of the passes thrown his way for an average of 16.2 yards/reception.
Does that mean Jones won't start? No. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't expect Jones to compete against Morgan Trent, who has only allowed one touchdown during his entire NFL career with an opposing quarterback rating of 70.9 in 2010. Granted, Trent allowed a higher completion rate of 65.5% to the receivers he covered. But with a 10.5 yards/reception average, most were short high percentage passes with an incredibly low 2.42 average yards after the catch.
It's premature to suggest one player starting over the other. We know right now that Adam Jones is working hard with the defensive players in Ohio while we've heard little about Trent this offseason. But if the Bengals lose Joseph to free agency, don't be surprised if that sets up a competition between Trent and Jones as the second starting cornerback, opposite of Leon Hall.