Here we go. We're rolling out the red carpet and breaking out the fancy envelopes to begin the 2012 season awards, called "The CJ's". The Cincy Jungle staff will give there takes on a particular award and then will allow you all to vote for the winner.
We'll be starting with The CJ for The Best Bengals Free Agent Acquisition of 2012. We're including players that the team picked up on the open market, as well as some of the players that were on their 2011 roster that they re-signed. Undrafted college free agents are not included on this award list--they'll be eligible elsewhere. Let's get it going--drumroll please.
Josh Kirkendall: Signed on September 18, 2012, Wallace Gilberry became a surprising addition to Cincinnati's fierce pass rush, generating a third-best 6.5 quarterback sacks on only 209 pass rushes this season. Not only that but his quarterback sacks generated impacted the games he played, with 5.5 of them coming in the second half and 3.5 in the fourth quarter. Only Geno Atkins had more. With all due respect to Terence Newman and his 79.3 opposing quarterback rating, Gilberry made a play-maker impact on a defensive line that generated 42 sacks this year.
Anthony Cosenza: Though he wasn't a "new addition", I'm going with Adam "Pacman" Jones. Not only has he stayed out of trouble for the most part in his time in Cincinnati, he's contributed heavily in two facets of the game. It could be argued that the 2012 season was one of the best in Jones' NFL career. He helped solidify the cornerback position after injuries hit Dre Kirkpatrick, Shaun Prater, Brandon Ghee, and Jason Allen. His play on the outside allowed Leon Hall and fellow free agent signee Terence Newman to shine in the group and Jones was one of the best cover guys on the team. He also was a stud on punt returns, putting together a bunch of awe-inspriring plays. He's a free agent again this season, so it will be interesting to see if he comes back on what would be his third contract with Cincinnati.
Jason Garrison: I'll have to go with BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He came to Cincinnati and played in a vastly different offense than he was used to in New England. He finished the season with 1,094 yards and averaged 3.9 yards per carry. He also scored six touchdowns. The reason I'm picking him, though, is because of his work in short-yardage situations. He converted 14 of 15 third-and-one throughout the season and converted 20 of 25 third- or fourth-and-short plays. This was a drastic turnaround from the 2011 Bengals, who struggled in third- and fourth-and-short situations with Cedric Benson in the backfield. Green-Ellis may not have the speed or ability to be the game-changing back the Bengals want, but there's no question that he's productive. With the right change-of-page back, Green-Ellis and the Bengals could have a long relationship.
Mojokong: I am going with Wallace Gilberry. Some may downplay his significance, but he ended with 6.5 sacks with limited playing time. He had to split time with Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap and Robert Geathers, and still managed to collect those sacks, get consistent pressure on the quarterback and even score a touchdown. He added tremendous depth to a dominant unit along the defensive line and really fell in line with Zimmer's philosophy. He may have played too well to keep as I would assume his price tag will go up as a result of his good season. I'm a big fan of Wallace and am grateful for his contributions this season.
Nick Crago: I'm going to go with Terence Newman. Newman allowed Leon Hall to cover the slot receiver, which he did a great job with. If the Bengals didn't sign the "has been" corner, the Bengals would have had to rely on Jason Allen or Nate Clements to play the role of Newman. Newman was a completely different corner this year compared to last year. He didn't take nearly as many gambles and therefore got "burned" far less often. He provided veteran leadership and I hope to see him back next season.
Dave Wellman: My winner is -- CB Jason Allen. Signed in March to a two-year, $8.2 million deal, the former Miami and Houston veteran spent much of the year on the sideline. At first this was due to injury; later, due to an inability to beat out such future Hall-of-Famers as Chris Crocker and Nate Clements at safety. Allen appeared in just four games for the Bengals last season, accumulating a grand total of three tackles, and is most remembered for a penalty on special teams that negated a big return by Adam Jones against Pittsburgh. But for those of you for whom the jihad against owner Mike Brown is neverending, Allen was a huge hit, costing Brown $1.36 million a tackle (assuming an even split of $4.1 million in each of his two years). Best of all, this signing didn't cost the team anything other thank Mike's money, as despite Allen's lack of contribution, the Bengals still made the playoffs.
And The CJ for The Best Bengals Free Agent Acquisition of 2012 goes to...