"It's great to have Cedric's situation wrapped up; he's a smart and productive player who keeps getting better for us."
-Marvin Lewis on signing Cedric Peerman this year
Cedric Peerman has been buried on the depth chart for some time and he will be in the future with the presence of Giovanni Bernard, but this doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for him. The running back situation in Cincinnati will be subject to some decisions in the near future and these decisions could impact the status of others on the team. Finding out now what Peerman can bring to the table as a running back could pay dividends now and into the future.
Peerman just turned 27 and is within his prime years. When given sporadic opportunities in the past at running back he has produced at a high rate. Last year he averaged over 5 yards per carry while earning 10 first downs and caught 9 passes for 85 yards and 1 tough rushing touchdown versus the Steelers. He runs hard and doesn’t go down easy (sound like someone you know); this is while having good speed, running a 4.45s in the 40-yard dash. Cedric Peerman has also been an ace when it comes to special teams as well as the captain of the unit. He’s been in on a blocked punt for a touchdown, a couple fake punts that he ran for big gains, and has been amongst the team’s best when it comes to special teams coverage and tackling. This could be especially important this coming summer as the team, with their plethora of linebackers, may lose or move on from another major special teams player, Vincent Rey.
Salary Cap Hit
In the next two years the Bengals will have a substantial list of players to resign and every dollar will count. Benjarvus Green-Ellis signed a 3yr/$9,000,000 deal (14th largest contract on the team) while Peerman signed a 2yr/$2,515,000 (36th on the team). When the team signed the Law Firm originally they did so to improve both their running game and short-yardage effectiveness. Now with a better, more versatile running back in Bernard it may be time to use this salary elsewhere and find a cheaper bruising back for those short-yardage situations. Peerman has always been a back that is willing to lower his shoulder and deliver a hit in an effort to pick up those tough yards. He seems to have better speed and slightly better elusiveness than the Law Firm and all at 42% of the average yearly salary. What exactly does it mean to save Green-Ellis’ salary? If the Bengals made Peerman the highest paid special teams captain, and hence third running back in the league at about $1.8 million per year (not necessarily advocating this; just for thought) they could still:
· Pay the 2014 1st round pick or the 2014 2nd- 4th round picks
· Pay Wallace Gilberry
· Pay James Harrison
· Give Anthony Collins a 25% raise to resign him and pay a 3rd round pick
· With the Bengals’ eye for UDFA talent lately, acquiring guys like DiManche, Burfict, Lamur, Sanzenbacher, Hawkins, and Robinson, they could pay 5 of them
Come 2015 the cheaper option and more effective back may be Peerman.
The Bengals have changed the culture of their franchise by adjusting their strategies and principles. They have also built a few different reputations along the way. This team is known for it’s skillful drafting, an ability to be successful with undrafted free agents, and for giving players who have struggled elsewhere, a second chance to succeed. Cedric Peerman could add to this reputation if given more opportunities to succeed as a running back, but with his own version. The Bengals acquired him only after being cut by the Ravens, Browns and Lions. He came in and worked hard to make himself a great special teams player. Now giving him an opportunity to have a successful role in the offense would create another layer to their reputation as a team that gives players opportunities of all kinds. These reputations can pay dividends in the future by attracting free agents for reasons other than money and any advantage in the free agent market is a plus.
In no way should Cedric Peerman take touches away from Giovanni Bernard. Rather what I see is the opportunity for him to be effective in the Law Firm role. Peerman has the skill set to be a more effective rusher on early downs with a better ability to break runs for more substantial gains. He has the willingness and physically to also pick up the tough yards in short yardage situations and soft hands allowing him to be a solid pass catcher; he received nine targets last year and caught all nine. This isn’t to say he’s a great pass catcher but he’s clearly solid and Green-Ellis isn’t known for his hands at all with only 50 catches in his career. This is just another dimension Peerman can bring to the game that Green-Ellis lacks.
Giving Peerman a shot in early downs to spell Bernard and Green-Ellis allows the Bengals a clear picture as to what investment they should be making come the summer of 2015. Peerman will be a 29-year-old free agent with significantly less mileage than Green-Ellis who will be 30. Giving Peerman an increased role will improve this team in the short and long run allowing the Bengals a more dynamic weapon and additional cap space in the pivotal free agency period of 2015.