Hometown: Bay Minette, AL
Grab a guy unwanted by other NFL clubs, find a role that suits his strengths, immerse him in the culture and reap the benefits. That could be the tagline of free agency for the Cincinnati Bengals over the past few years. Mike Brown, Marvin Lewis and Co. have used the "cheap" stigma that has been placed on them and used it to their advantage. Defensive end Wallace Gilberry is an example of the successes in their free agency forays.
Gilberry was an undrafted free agent back in 2008 by the Giants and subsequently latched on to the Kansas City Chiefs' roster later that year. In three of his four seasons there, Gilberry played in 16 games as a dependable defensive lineman. In that time, he had 14 sacks, four forced fumbles and two recoveries.
In what can only be a testament to Gilberry's work ethic and the Bengals' coaching staff's acumen, he has experienced a renaissance in the Queen City. In just two seasons here, Gilberry has seen single-season career bests in sacks (7.5), tackles (24) and fumble recoveries (3). In half the time with the Bengals, Gilberry is just a half-sack short of his 14 he had with the Chiefs. All while still being a rotational player.
Some of the production has come with him kicking inside to tackle on passing downs and exploiting a mismatch there. With Michael Johnson leaving for Tampa Bay in free agency, Gilberry (among others) will be expected to have an increased role in 2014. While he has been consistent in his two Bengal seasons, a lot of that has to do with him being fresh when having his name called. That may or may not be the case with a heavier work load.
If we were to make an early prediction, we think that Gilberry will remain consistent with his previous output because of his niche here. However, there could also be either a spike or decline in his production because of more snaps. Will he be less effective because of fatigue? Or will he thrive even more in a system that he has fit into so well? Regardless, Gilberry is signed through 2015 to figure it all out.