During the offseason, teams are allowed a maximum of 90 players, which includes unsigned draft picks. With the release of Robert Sands on Wednesday, Cincinnati now has 89 players on their active roster. Naturally this invites discourse.
Sands was released to send a message.
Knowing what you know about the Bengals, do you really buy this? Sands was arrested for allegedly striking his wife in January. Considering this incident took place seven months ago, reacting to Adam Jones' legal entanglement by releasing Sands just seems petty.
"Well, Jones was arrested again so let's find the most insignificant player and release him because he got into trouble seven months ago. That'll teach 'em."
If the Bengals really wanted to send a message, they'd release Jones, the actual culprit to whatever message the team wants sent. So, the reasoning doesn't really stick and players are bright enough to see through that facade anyway.
It's entirely possible that something new happened with Sands that hasn't been made public yet. But we can hardly react to unsubstantiated supposition.
Sands was released because he wasn't in their plans.
This I would have believed if the Bengals were cutting 15 players today to lower their 90-man roster to 75. While obvious that Sands didn't factor on the 53-man roster, the Bengals wouldn't release him on that philosophical measure alone.
Additionally, the release of Sands leaves six safeties on the board which could impact the need for bodies during training camp. If we include Nate Clements as a safety last year, the Bengals started training camp with seven safeties in 2012. The two years before that, Cincinnati had at least eight. Even if Sands wasn't in the team's plans (many players aren't anyway), they still could have used him.
Sands was released to make room for an addition.
The most logical assumption at this point, though we wouldn't be surprised if the Bengals just found a better safety on the free agent market. We're not going to conjecture names (Kerry Rhodes), but the Bengals won't wait long to reload the roster with a 90th player.