The Cincinnati Bengals confirmed that former Denver Broncos defensive end Robert Ayers completed a scheduled visit on Wednesday.
Beyond that, crickets.
And we're not just inferring the Cincinnati Bengals. The only other team with acknowledged interest, so far, are the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas, recently suitors for defensive end Jared Allen, signed defensive tackle Henry Melton to a $29 million deal over four seasons.
Ayers, who reached a career-high 5.5 quarterback sacks in 2013, has generated 12 in his career with three forces fumbles. After grading out with a combined -1.2 Pro Football Focus score in his first four seasons, Ayers became one of Denver's more productive players with a +11.1 score and 41 quarterback hurries last season.
The conversation for Ayers, basically, breaks down into a comparison with Robert Geathers. And if we're applying a common sense approach, the Bengals should think about change.
Prior to Ayers' boom in 2013, the same year that Geathers was lost for most of the season, both players were similar in their approach -- strong run defenders. However, whereas Ayers has been a steady run defender, Geathers, once a quality run defender, has submitted negative scores. Breaking down the run defense from 2009-2012.
|PFF Run Defense Scores||Robert Geathers||Robert Ayers|
As pass rushers, their combined production between 2010-2012 has been similar until you hit the overall PFF scores.
|2010-2012||Robert Geathers||Robert Ayers|
|PFF Pass Rush||-39.9||-8.6|
|PFF Run Defense||-8.7||+10.3|
The biggest separation is 2013.
Geathers suffered a season-ending elbow injury in week two whereas Ayers overall production exploded, with a career-high 5.5 quarterback sacks and a run defense score of +11.5 -- ranked ninth in the NFL among all defensive ends in base 4-3 alignments.
Another obvious question is cost.
Geathers, who signed a three-year deal worth $9.5 million last year, features a $2.7 million cap hit this year ($2.5 million base plus $200,000 workout bonus). While Cincinnati won't encounter dead money by releasing Geathers, figure that a player like Ayers, who is on the rise, will cost comparatively more than Geathers -- perhaps double the cost?
Either way, Ayers is still a free agent and three days have passed since any update has been reported. The lesser demand that exists for him, the more manageable a price Cincinnati could negotiate -- if they're still interested.
If the Bengals sign Ayers, he'd be a quality rotational defensive end during obvious run situations. While he'd provide nothing more than an appetizer after losing Michael Johnson, Ayers would be an upgrade over Geathers.