Bengals cornerback Leon Hall suffered an Achilles tear against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, ending his season.
One would think that the team would place Hall on Injured Reserve the following day, but they haven't. As of this moment, Hall, who is expected to have surgery on Monday, remains on the active 53-man roster.
The most logical conclusion: Since the team didn't find anyone worth signing onto the 53-man roster this week, the Bengals are holding onto Hall's eventual departure from the 53-man roster for wide receiver Andrew Hawkins.
Hawkins, currently on the Injured Reserve with a designation to return, is eligible to return to the 53-man roster on Monday. Many believe that on that date, Hall will placed on IR and Hawkins will replace him when he's finally eligible.
Yet, there are arguments against this transaction.
For one, when Hawkins returns, the Bengals will have seven wide receivers on the 53-man roster, joining A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, Brandon Tate, Dane Sanzenbacher, and Ryan Whalen.
It's not unheard of for the team to carry seven receivers; the Bengals opened last season with seven and that scenario seems like the most logical at this moment. It also places Whalen on alert, who has been dropped to the bottom of the wide receiver roster after Sanzenbacher has seen an increase in offensive participation, as well as his ability returning punts staying in the team's hip pocket. In other words, when the Bengals need a spot on the 53-man roster, Whalen is probably the first-man up.
Another point questions if Hawkins is even ready. The team's stop-watch to activate him to the 53-man roster started Wednesday when he returned to practice. Now Cincinnati has three weeks from that point to make a decision on Hawkins, who claims to only be about 90 percent recovered from his training camp high ankle sprain. However, practice went well this week.
"Every time you have an injury you don’t know what type of injury it is going to be," Hawkins said via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It could be an injury where you are out a couple days, could be an injury when you are done forever. In the first couple of minutes you just don’t know. I thank God I am able to go back out there."
One might ask, why can't the Bengals just place Hall on IR this week, leaving 52 players on the active roster? One theory is that if the team has a vacancy on the active roster, they would have to make a decision on quarterback Greg McElroy.
According to NFL rules regarding practice squad eligibility, players with practice squad and regular season experience, can remain eligible for the practice squad provided that there's no openings on the team's 53-man roster. Therefore if the Bengals placed Hall on IR, it leaves 52 players and could make McElroy ineligible on the team's practice squad. Again, that's a theory.
Since the Bengals didn't sign someone off the street this week to replace Hall, using his eventual placement on IR to create room for Andrew Hawkins makes the most sense. And considering that his eligibility is three days away, its the most logical conclusion.