The Cincinnati Bengals pulled a trick out of their hat that nobody saw coming yesterday, when they re-hired former Oakland Raiders Head Coach Hue Jackson to be their newest Assistant Coach. This was just a few days after the Bengals unexpectedly named Mark Carrier as the team's defensive backs coach. Not only do these two coaches bring a level of respect and expertise to the Bengals, but they've also gained valuable connections throughout their year's in the league.
Carrier made his hay with his decade-long career as a player, as well as the leader of the vaunted Ravens secondary and Jets defensive line, while Jackson has made quite a few friends with players from his days at USC and most recently with the Raiders. A lot of silver and black fans aren't pleased at how the Jackson situation has played out, but the truth is that Jackson has a reputation as a "players coach".
Do these two hires help the Bengals' upcoming foray into free agency?
I'd argue, yes. The Raiders are in horrible salary cap shape and will probably be making notable roster cuts, as well as not have the ability to retain some of their own quality free agents. Jackson being the charismatic "players coach" that he is, probably has solid relationships with free agent strong safety, Tyvon Branch, possible cap casualty and free safety, Michael Huff, as well as cornerback, Stanford Routt, who was just visiting CIncinnati.
All three of these players could fit the needs of the Bengals and start right away. Did I mention that part of Jackson's Assistant Coach duties will be to help Carrier oversee the defensive backs? Personally, it seemed like a strange coincidence that the Bengals announced the Jackson hire on the same day that Routt was in town speaking with the club. WIth the Jackson hire, the Bengals' fleecing of the Raiders could continue.
Though Carrier may not be as high of a profile coach as Jackson, he still has a reputation around the league as a solid position coach. The Ravens and Jets don't have too many free agents that could hit the market, though there are players like offensive guard Ben Grubbs and cornerbacks Dominique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb could be available and fill needs for the Bengals.
I'm guessing that Marvin Lewis will be not only be relying on these two new coaches to help their position groups, but also in recruitment and scouting purposes. With the Jackson hire and Marvin Lewis' contract expiring after the 2012 season, there's some rumblings as to what the future will hold in Cincinnati. But, for the time being, Lewis would be wise to lean on these coaches to bring in some quality free agents. I suspect that that was part of the strategy behind these hires.