CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 16: Nate Clements #22 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates during the NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium on October 16, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 27-17. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Cincinnati felt comfortable enough prior to an 11th hour offer that Johnathan Joseph was going to return, holding station at cornerback alongside Leon Hall, promising the continued evolution of one of the league's better cornerback duos. Out of nowhere Houston threw together an offer that Joseph couldn't refuse and the Bengals were left with an injured Adam Jones and a collection of cornerbacks better suited for special teams as replacements. Thus they quickly put together a two-year deal worth $10.5 million for an aging 31-year cornerback entering his 11th season in the league.
Though he wasn't Johnathan Joseph, Nate Clements wasn't that bad at all.
After a rough start allowing 228 yards against opposing receivers during the first two regular season games, and an opposing quarterback rating of 156.3 against Kyle Orton, Clements settled down. Throughout the season he allowed four touchdowns, an opposing quarterback rating of 78.7, while generating two interceptions, a quarterback sack, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 12 passes defensed and a key blocked field goal against the Indianapolis Colts.
Age and salary could risk Clements' future in Cincinnati, becoming a salary casualty (otherwise known as old guys getting cut because they're old). Otherwise, provided the team allows Dre Kirkpatrick to develop on his own, Clements is an early favorite to return to his role as a starting cornerback in 2012.