In the NFL, trades are a bit of a rarity. That is especially true for a team like the Cincinnati Bengals, who prefer to build their roster through the draft rather than acquiring pricey veterans. The Bengals are typically very good at negotiating and winning trades, despite the fact that they simply don’t do it very often. Still, with the trade deadline only six days away (November 1 at 4 p.m. ET), talk of potential trades is ramping up.
There hasn’t been much buzz surrounding trades out of the Bengals’ camp despite the looming deadline. But, one potentially interesting trade idea, as explained by Katherine Terrell of ESPN, involves Bengals’ 2014 first round draft pick, Darqueze Dennard.
With Josh Shaw surpassing him as the slot corner, and with the team investing a 2016 first-round pick in William Jackson III, Dennard is an expendable commodity. Dealing him could produce depth issues in the short term, however, because Jackson is still on injured reserve. Dennard, a first-round pick in 2014, has played just 111 snaps this season, and he's under team control through 2017. He has only one career interception. -- Katherine Terrell
In his three years in the NFL, Dennard hasn’t accomplished as much as you would hope out of a first round draft pick. In his rookie season, he only played 41 snaps on defense. Then again, you could argue that the Bengals don’t typically give a lot of playing time to rookies, so getting on the field at a crowded position is impressive enough. He was off to a good start in 2015, but was lost for the season with a devastating shoulder injury after Week 11. In 2016, he missed the preseason due to an ankle injury suffered in training camp. Then once he returned, he was replaced as the primary slot cornerback by second year player, Josh Shaw.
The case for trading Dennard
It’s not necessarily fair to blame Dennard for his setbacks due to injury. But, the fact of the matter is they have happened and they have resulted in real consequences. One of those consequences is the fact that his development has been set back significantly and, as already mentioned, it caused him to free fall down the depth chart. In 2015, Dennard was competing with Dre Kirkpatrick for a starting job before a preseason groin injury caused him to miss most of the preseason, much of training camp and gave the job to Kirkpatrick.
Now, with William Jackson III on Injured Reserve and Adam Jones not getting any younger, the Bengals need to figure out where their future at the cornerback position is going to be and if Kirkpatrick will be re-signed before he becomes a free agent in March 2017. Based on Dennard’s career so far, can you confidently say that he is the future? With the recent development of Shaw and the drafting of Jackson, the Bengals have a plethora of talent to develop. If they ship Dennard to another team for a fair price, they can always bring in another cornerback down the line with just as much potential. The Bengals also added a third-round talent at the beginning of the season when they acquired KeiVarae Russell when the Chiefs dropped the rookie draft pick.
Remember the last time the Bengals had a talented first round pick who kept getting injured, which significantly halted his development? It was their 2008 first round draft pick, Keith Rivers. The Bengals gave up on him after four years and traded him to the New York Giants for a fifth round draft pick that turned into current starting strong safety, George Iloka. If the Bengals could get a similar deal for Dennard, they would have the opportunity to score big in the draft again, something they have become good at over the years.
The case for not trading Dennard
The Bengals will have an opportunity to make a decision on Dennard at the end of the year when they have a chance to exercise his fifth year option. He will probably need to step up his play for the Bengals to do that, but all he needs to do is show enough improvement that the coaches can have confidence in his continuing development. If they don’t extend his fifth year option, after 2017, the Bengals will have to make a tough decision on whether or not to re-sign him. Still, giving the former ‘No-Fly Zone’ player ample time to prove himself would be nice.
The Bengals have enough talent at the cornerback position that they can afford to be patient with Dennard. Adam Jones is getting older, but he doesn’t appear to be ready to quit any time soon; plus, he has two years after this year left on his deal. If Jackson develops as expected and Kirkpatrick continues to improve, the Bengals shouldn’t have any issues with the starters. Shaw should continue to be a viable third option based on his performance this year. So, that leaves the Bengals with an excuse to see how Dennard’s development plays out over the rest of this season and in 2017 without forcing him on the field or pushing him out the door.