John Clayton wrote, when looking ahead to 2007, that the Bengals could cut Deltha O'Neal. He didn't say much. "The Bengals might cut cornerback Deltha O'Neal." That's about as close to "to-the-point" as you get. Most of the people I've spoken to agrees: adios. Chick Ludwig said, "O'Neal also needs to be shown the door. His head's not in the game."
If O'Neal is cut and James isn't re-signed, the Bengals would likely look at cornerback in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft. So while assuming that both are gone this off-season, let's review the updated roster/depth:
- Johnathan Joseph
- Keiwan Ratliff
- Brandon Williams
Rashad Bauman is an unrestricted free agent and Greg Brooks is a restricted free agent. I expect both to be back. Replacing a starting cornerback is one thing. But replacing nearly the entire position would be a tall task.
Now, there's a possibility the team could convert a safety to cornerback. Even speculation has led to Madieu Williams replacing the departed James. That, of course, is strictly speculation. Like sledridge, I don't think this would be a good idea. It would reduce our product at safety -- which is already performing a high wire act.
Once you get past Williams and Dexter Jackson, you have John Busing, Herana-Daze Jones and Ethan Kilmer. These are good special teams players. But it seems to me that replacing Williams with any of these guys would completely downgrade the position. And does it make sense that you move one player to relieve holes at cornerback when you create more holes at another safety?