When the Cincinnati Bengals claimed Dontay Moch off waivers last week, they may have set the stage for the least publicized acquisition -- well, maybe. Obviously if Cincinnati has their way, the Bengals hope to recoup an investment that they lost with a former third-round selection.
Moch spent his first two seasons with the Bengals before his eventual release during final cuts last year. When the team announced that seven of the eight practice squad spots had been filled, Moch's name was noticeably absent. Instead of returning to Cincinnati, Moch signed onto the Arizona Cardinals' practice squad. With Carlos Dunlap, Robert Geathers, Michael Johnson, Wallace Gilberry and now Magus Hunt on the opening roster last year, it made sense for Moch to find a path with less obstruction.
Within a couple of weeks, he joined Arizona's 53-man roster; something that may not have happened had he stayed in Cincinnati -- though with Geathers suffering a season-ending injury early, Moch probably would have been ... but how can one predict such things?
Though he only played four games with Arizona and participated with 64 defensive snaps, Moch generated five quarterback pressures and recorded a sack in week four against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- the first of his career. Arizona placed Moch on waivers in early March and Cincinnati invited him back home by a waiver claim.
FRUSTRATING BENGALS CAREER
Moch's career in Cincinnati, frustrating as hell, has been filled with injuries, migraines and a suspension.
A gameday inactive throughout the entirety of his rookie season, Moch missed the first four games in 2011 with a foot injury that he suffered during the preseason. When he returned to practice in early October, migraines suddenly wiped out the remainder of his rookie season.
Moch made his debut and lone participation for the Bengals in week six against the Cleveland Browns on October 14, 2012, contributing with five defensive snaps, of which four were pass rushes (no pressures). He was later placed on Injured Reserve on November 2 when his migraines returned.
In the end, Moch missed 33 of 34 games (including the postseason) in Cincinnati.
PROMISE OF SOMETHING BETTER
Talent has never been an issue with Moch.
After four seasons at Nevada, Moch departed with a then-conference-record 63 tackles for loss and 30 quarterback sacks (second in conference history). During his final season, he broke his own record with 22 tackles for loss, adding 8.5 quarterback sacks. Listed at 6-2 and 255 pounds, Moch conquered the world with a 4.40 sprint at the NFL Combine.
Quality production (or any production at all) has yet to translate into the regular season, but during two combined preseasons with the Bengals, Moch generated 6.5 quarterback sacks with a team-leading 3.5 stops in 2012.
This kid can ball. The issue has always been whether or not he'll get on the field.
Clearly the Bengals like Moch -- they wouldn't placed a claim on him last week -- and feel comfortable enough that his migraines are in the rear-view to trigger the acquisition. Then again, a $570,000 salary offers a low-risk proposition.
Cincinnati is expected to keep Moch at defensive end, rather than the team's experimental phase at outside linebacker which Arizona applied last season.
The question is what version of Moch Cincinnati receives. The injury-prone defensive end that's only allowed him to play five career games (four in Arizona) or the promising prospect that encouraged Cincinnati to use their third-round selection in 2011.
One extreme prognostication is that Moch has a break-out year, perhaps even offsetting the loss of Michael Johnson as a pass rusher. On the other side of the extreme spectrum, this year mirrors all of the others.