Is J Joe a top 5 NFL cornerback? Yes, when he is on the field. J Joe has been hurt for a large part of his career, and after signing with the Texans immediately injured his groin and has yet to practice or play in a preseason game. Many Bengals fans were upset they didn't re-sign J Joe and I've even seen recent posts that say this would have been a great draft, FA signing, trades period for the Bengals if it wasn't for losing J Joe. Personally I think it was a great preseason for the Bengals, in large part because they had the guts to let J Joe walk. The Bengals offered him a fair contract but were not willing to pay top cornerback money to a guy who has yet to prove he can make it through a full season without injury. At what point do the injuries catch up with this guy, he loses a step and is now toast on every play? Opposite of J Joe was a corner in Leon Hall who has been durable, and played like a #1 corner when J Joe has been on the sidelines nursing injury. The Bengals needed to focus on re-signing Leon Hall more so than J Joe. Further, lets look at what the Bengals did following J Joe's signing with the Texans. Did they sit on their hands, as they would have in years past, and said "Well, if Adam Jones isn't healthy, we can get by with Ghee, Trent, Wade or Bennett"? No, they immediately went out and brought in Clements, a veteran CB who is healthy and one of the better corners in this league. Then, they trade for Taylor Mays to boost the safeties and trade for Jennings, a super fast former 1st round draft pick who will move into a natural position at nickle.
This has appeared to be a different Bengals team since Marvin re-signed as the HC. Their moves have been smart, methodical and focused on benefiting this team. That includes their decision to let J Joe walk.