All personal feelings of Willie Anderson being my favorite player aside, cutting the franchise's (arguably) baddest right tackle doesn't make sense. For as much as we slam the team for signing Chris Henry, we need apply the same venom for releasing Willie Anderson and his "good guy" character with historically leadership virtues.
The Bengals want to get younger. Well, they did, didn't they? While there's technically relevance to this argument, it's foolish to think that younger means more talented, or better. Rich Braham was older than Anderson when he went down on the last play of his NFL career; does that mean Eric Ghiaciuc was better at the time? Does that mean Ghiaciuc is better now? Granted, circumstances are different, but my point is that younger doesn't mean better.
If the Bengals wanted to take this approach, why keep Anderson from week #17 in 2007 until Saturday afternoon? Why keep Michael Myers, John Thornton, Reggie Kelly, Dexter Jackson, Bobbie Williams, or Dhani Jones -- all players within three years of Anderson's age.
If it's really about money, then why didn't the team spend the offseason addressing a pay cut; an extension with less cap penalties, to create cap room and general savings for the owner? How did this suddenly become an issue? Did the team know that he wouldn't take a pay cut, thus releasing him thinking they'd save face from the Bengals mob?
Willie Anderson just isn't what he used to be. That's true, but if you compare it to the players that would replace him as the primary tackle backup, do you think that the line actually improves with Scott Kooistra and Anthony Collins?
While Kooistra has been a decent backup, solid near the bottom of the line's depth, Collins is a young, promising, tackle with the ability to write a story similar to Anderson's career. Who knows how that story will write out; we're still writing an introduction. Still, the Bengals are dangerously walking a high-wire act trusting the health of Levi Jones and Stacy Andrews, pointing towards a life-long backup and a rookie tackle to supplement the position whereas they had a Pro Bowl tackle, two years removed.
It goes to show the class of this organization when a man as loyal as Anderson -- so loyal that he deals with this franchise, forgoing any chance at a championship for an entire career -- is blown off like he was. From a football perspective, releasing Anderson doesn't make sense. But if the organization wanted loyal fans, who appreciated Anderson's attitude, play and leadership, to pile onto a mountain of distain, they did it -- one of the few things they do well.