When Keith Rivers arrived at training camp in 2011, the Cincinnati Bengals were without their starting WILL linebacker after Rivers had reportedly undergone surgery that was described at the time as a "reconstruction of the wrist." Unknown when he'd return, if at all, the Bengals turned to free agency and found linebacker Thomas Howard, who experienced decreased playing time in Oakland.
It was a "best scenario" that played out.
Howard led the Bengals with 120 tackles in 2011 and Rivers was traded to the New York Giants last season. Expected to improve upon his performance in 2011 with a full offseason in the system, Howard's follow-up season ended prematurely. A torn ACL during a mid-week practice forced Howard on Injured Reserve after only one game.
With only one team showing enough interest to host Howard, the free agent linebacker remains available.
Don't expect Howard to be out of a job for long. Geoff Hobson with Bengals.com wrote on Tuesday that "Lewis has indicated he expects the Bengals to re-sign Howard, turning 30 in July." Even if the Bengals bring Howard back, don't expect him to resume his role as a starter based on the scenario we're led to believe with Rey Maualuga in the middle and Vontaze Burfict at WILL. They could move Burfict inside, Howard at WILL and find something else to do with Maualuga; we doubt he'd be benched after signing a $6.5 million deal.
We're thinking special teams for Howard. At least to begin with.