As Chris Crocker appears content for retirement, or at the very least following Mike Zimmer to Minnesota, the Cincinnati Bengals found themselves without a multi-tasking, versatile defensive back. Everyone has specific roles; no one can really roam around, except for many Leon Hall playing the slot receiver. Crocker was a do-it-all during his tenure in Cincinnati, ranging from starting safety, to slot cornerback, to pass rusher and run defender. If there's a question about Danieal Manning's role in Cincinnati's secondary, Chris Crocker would be our best example.
"(Bengals DB coach Vance) Joseph says Manning can play in the box as well as in high zones and he's comfortable lining him up in the slot as a nickel corner," writes Geoff Hobson.
"When we were in Houston, we were No. 2 in pass defense my first year there and three last year, so he's played some good football for me," Joseph said. "He's a good tackler in the box and he can go up and make plays on the ball down the field in traffic. We didn't have free or strong in Houston, we had left and right, so he knows how to play that and coming from Chicago he knows how to play half (field coverage)."
HOW FAR ALONG IS HIS REHABILITATION?
True. Manning suffered a fractured right fibula in October, ending his season after week six. It's not the Leon Hall level of rehabilitation, but work is still needed. During a brief news conference after the team announced the signing, Manning is confident that he'll be fine.
"I think I'm going to be fine," Manning said. "Just got to the point where I can get on the field. I've been on the field maybe two weeks. Hasn't been nothing strenuous. At this point rehab is crucial. That also played another part. I talked with Nick the athletic trainer, we spoke, he told me he could help me get along as quickly as possible. That made me feel good and confident. He kept reassuring me also the guys he worked with, Leon's injury and how he worked closely with those two injuries. I felt like my injury was significant but not as significant as Leon's so I think we'd be be able to work you out and get you back able to compete at the high level you compete at. That gave me a reassurance, again, this is another good place for me to be."
LOOKING AT PFF NUMBERS
Of the 15 passes that targeted players that he covered last season, receivers caught seven passes for 70 yards for an opposing quarterback rating of 60.4. That follows a full 16-game season in 2012 where he allowed 72.3 percent of the passes to find their receivers, including five touchdowns and an opposing quarterback rating of 117.3. It was his worst season, as a pass defender, dating back to 2007.
BREAKING DOWN THE CONTRACT
Manning signed a one-year deal worth $1.6 million on Thursday. The breakdowns:
Base Salary: $1 million
Signing Bonus: $100,000
Roster Bonus: $168,750
Workout Bonus: $50,000
Cap Number: $1,318,750
Dead Money: $100,000
Cap Savings (if released): $1,218,750
WILL HE START?
My initial inclination is, no. While Manning is a strong defensive back that automatically enhances the team's depth chart, he turns 32 years old and is still coming off a broken leg. At one point the Bengals favored experience over youth, but that trend has swapped places.
Last year, when someone asked the Bengals about adding wide receiver Randy Moss, Lewis went on the offensive:
"That’s the uneducated putting dumb thoughts in people’s minds. It’s why you have an opportunity to go after these guys and go get these guys. So you continue to make your team better. You are not a positive in making your team better when you keep adding old guys . What did Randy Moss do for those guys last year? He did nothing. He got in the way of a younger player performing."
The question this year is replacing third-year safety George Iloka, who led the defense with 1,103 defensive snaps. He defended 31 passes, allowing 17 completions with an opposing passer rating of 88.5. However, he didn't add many turnovers (one interception and two forced fumbles) and, despite leading the secondary with 67 tackles, he missed 13 -- tying Adam Jones and Rey Maualuga for the team-lead.
That being said, all bets are off. There will be competition.
"We're always looking for depth and competition and this guy gives us a veteran presence back there,' said defensive coordinator Paul Guenther."We want guys that will compete and this guy will come in and compete for a job. He's a guy that can run and can tackle and he can cover tight ends."
Will Cincinnati risk Iloka's playing time, and thus his development, for a one-year safety who instantly becomes the fifth-oldest player on the team? Or will Manning become the new Chris Crocker, not necessarily eliminating playing time for a younger defensive back but being an effective role player? That's only one of many questions heating into training camp.