The Cincinnati Bengals are getting set to play in their biggest game of the 2015 season, but they're still doing business as usual when it comes to the future.
Part of that involves getting free agents signed to futures contracts as well as keeping the practice squad filled. The team announced on Tuesday that free agent linebacker Jayson DiManche was signed to the practice squad to fill the vacancy left by Trevor Roach, who was signed to the 53-man roster this week after linebacker Emmanuel Lamur was placed on Injured Reserve.
In addition to DiManche, the Bengals also signed safety Floyd Raven, kicker Zach Hocker and defensive end Dezmond Johnson to futures contracts. Those three will join the 90-man offseason roster once the Bengals' season ends, whenever that time may come.
Now in his third NFL season out of Southern Illinois, DiManche signed with the Bengals as an undrafted free agent following the 2013 NFL Draft. He played in all 16 games as a rookie while making 18 tackles and appeared to have a promising career ahead of him.
DiManche opened 2014 as one of the team's top linebackers before he finished the season with seven tackles on defense and three on special teams with a forced fumble on special teams. He was put on season-ending Injured Reserve after suffering a forearm fracture during Cincinnati's 14-13 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014.
After opening this past training camp with Cincinnati, DiManche suffered a knee injury in the preseason. He was placed on I.R. by the team, but was eventually cut with an injury settlement That allowed him to sign with another NFL team, and he would join the Cleveland Browns and be active for one game before being waived this season. He was signed and cut from the Browns multiple times this season.
Of the three future contract signees, Raven is the only player with previous experience with the Bengals. He signed with the team following the 2015 NFL Draft as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M. Raven is a defensive back who spent most of his college career at safety, a position the Bengals had more than enough depth at during training camp. That led to Raven rarely even getting practice reps before he was eventually waived. He spent time on the New England practice squad, but hasn't latched on to a team's 53-man roster.
Hocker was the only player signed who has actual regular-season experience. He played in six games with the New Orleans Saints and two with the St. Louis Rams in the 2015 regular season. His last action came in Week 14 with the Rams while Greg Zuerlein was injured. Hocker was active in two games before Zuerlein returned and was released on December 15, 2015.
Hocker played college football at Arkansas from 2010 to 2013 and made 61 of 79 field-goal attempts during that time. Hocker signed as an undrafted free agent out of Washington on May 16, 2014, but was released on August 30, 2014 during final roster cuts before the start of the 2014 season in favor of Kai Forbath. He's made 10-of-14 field goals in the NFL, good for a 71.4-percent rate.
Johnson was a 2015 college free agent signee by the Tennessee Titans who actually appeared to sign with the Bengals before ultimately going to the Music City. Johnson played 48 games at Duke as a defensive end while totaling 7.5 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and 86 tackles during his four-year career. The product of Overton High School in Nashville was a three-time Academic All-ACC selection.