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Trent Cole is a player that the Bengals could gravitate towards

The Bengals community has obsessed over the idea of signing Greg Hardy -- especially after a prediction went into full-blown "likelihood mode". On the other hand, the recently released Trent Cole could actually make more sense.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles have officially announced that they've released defensive end Trent Cole on Wednesday, concluding a 10-year Eagles career that began with a fifth-round pick in 2005. Cole, who turns 33 this October, has posted 85.5 career sacks but hasn't posted double-digit numbers since 2011. He posted 6.5 sacks in 2014 and only 17.5 sacks in the last three seasons combined.

The Cincinnati Bengals are obviously in the market for a defensive end. Perhaps their search will conclude with a prospect in the 2015 NFL draft to team up with Margus Hunt and Will Clarke. There's a possibility that Cincinnati could sign a well-known free agent who has a history of success. The dreamer is conjuring images of Greg Hardy, who many people suggest is a "natural fit"... meaning that he plays a 4-3 and that the Bengals have a four-man front.

Why not Trent Cole?

Obviously his career is on the decline (that happens to 10-year veterans) but returning home has a powerful impact for careers riding off against the picturesque sunset. Originally from Xenia (where he played in high school), Cole spent his formative collegiate years at the University of Cincinnati. As he's navigating toward the twilight of his career, someone like Cole would benefit in rotation... not taking away snaps from younger players that need playing time, while keeping Cole's legs fresh for bigger moments later during games.

Greg Hardy is the big name that people covet but Cole is a player that fits into Cincinnati's situation/scenario and someone who the Bengals may actually gravitate toward.