JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 09: Reggie Nelson #20 of the Cincinnati Bengals reacts at the end of his team's win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on October 9, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida. Cincinnati won 30-20. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
It is a common circumstance in the NFL when a coach leaves for another team, he is a draw for said coaches former team's free agents the following year (see: Hue Jackson, Carson Palmer, and T.J. Houshmanzadeh as one example of many). It is not necessarily a bad thing, especially in the case of Jackson and Palmer, but sometimes it can be the worst.
In a recent article by Dolphins beat writer Armando Salguero, he expounds on the Dolphins needs and how they could fill them in free agency and not have to put so much stress on the front office on draft day. Among the Dolphins main needs, including a quarterback, no. 2 wide receiver, and offensive linemen, Salguero notes that they need a lot of help on the defensive side of the ball. If you gave Salguero one free agent acquisition, who would it be?
Of course, who wouldn't want Williams to be the driving force behind their defense? But this is not the most eye-catching statement Salguero makes; he notes that a few of the Bengals top free agents would be perfect fits in Miami because of the influence on them of their newly acquired defensive coordinator, Kevin Coyle.
On the list he includes,
Reggie Nelson, S, Cincinnati Bengals: The Dolphins just hired Kevin Coyle as their defensive coordinator after he served as the Bengals secondary coach fpr [sic] nearly a decade. That means he knows a little something about the Bengals secondary. And he somehow got Nelson, an early-round draft bust in Jacksonville, to play well in Cincinnati. Maybe Nelson might be the answer to getting some plays out of the Miami free safety spot.
Pat Sims DT, Cincinnati Bengals: Read the above and understand that Coyle saw Sims in practice every day. He has started 23 games in four seasons for the Bengals. He is mostly an anchor inside against the run. He is another, cheaper option to Paul Soliai. In fact, he's a cheaper option to both Soliai and Bunkley and he's only 26. Sims is from Fort Lauderdale so maybe he'd like to come home.
A recurring point that Salguero makes in both player profiles is the presence of Coyle in Miami and his insider knowledge on both players. Both Nelson and Sims are must-sign free agents for the Bengals if they want to keep the no. 7 ranked defense in the NFL. The damage it would cause to the defense, especially the loss of Nelson, would be comparable to losing Jonathon Joseph last off-season.
It is highly unlikely that Coyle will bring both Nelson and Sims to Miami next season, but it is very likely that one of the two will leave Cincinnati. Sims would be the likely choice to leave because Miami would be willing to pay him a bit more than Cincinnati because he would have a starting role there, while in Cincy he is a rotation man. Sims would also be the likely one to leave because Nelson isn't going anywhere. Nelson is the Bengals top free agent and re-signing him is one of their main priorities this off-season. Even though Sims is the likelier to leave, the draw of Coyle in Miami pales in comparison to the draw of Mike Zimmer in Cincinnati. Even though Coyle is an up-and-coming coach in the league, Zimmer is a fan and player favorite in the locker room and that, the desire to build a better defense this off-season through free agency and the draft, and the massive amount of cap room should be enough to keep Sims and Nelson in Cincinnati for next year.