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Bengals tried out group of CFL players

The Bengals are looking to improve their roster this week by picking from Canada’s ranks.

104th Grey Cup Championship Game Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

2016 has been a pretty rough year for the Cincinnati Bengals and the end result is probably going to be plenty of roster changes to replace players who aren’t pulling their weight on the team. One way to do that, which has worked for guys like Joe Horn, Cameron Wake, and Warren Moon in the past, is to try to find players currently in the CFL with the potential to contribute at the NFL level. The Bengals gave that strategy the old college (or Canadian) try this week. According to Katherine Terrell of ESPN, the team brought in a number of players at their thinnest positions to try out.

Lots of CFL players that worked out for the Bengals today. They tried out WR Darvin Adams, DE Alex Bazzie, LB Frank Beltre, WR Bryan Burnham, LB Deon Lacey, DE Cleyon Laing, WR Derel Walker and DB Mitchell White. They were conducting a lengthy tryout period after practice on Thursday.

The Bengals can sign CFL players to futures contracts for 2017 following the conclusion of the regular season.

Of these players, only Adams has spent time on an active NFL roster. In 2011, he spent two games in the second half of the season on the Panthers’ active roster. During that time, he recorded a tackle. As you can probably guess, that wasn’t enough production for the Panthers or any NFL team justify putting him on their roster, so he found a new home in the short lived UFL with the Virginia Destroyers.

He only lasted four games, but he put together enough film to earn a contract with the Toronto Argonauts, with whom he recorded 18 catches for 237 yards and a touchdown. He moved on to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 2015 offseason and promptly lit up the league (61 catches for 839 yards and six touchdowns). He was hurt for the majority of 2016, but returned to the starting lineup near the end of the year, giving the Bengals enough reason to think he is worth giving a shot.

Adams is the only player to have actually played in an NFL game, although Beltre, Lacey, Laing, and Walker have all spent time on NFL teams in some capacity. But, they were only there in training camp or practice squads before being released and finding a home in Canada.

By far the most interesting story of the group, and perhaps the player with the best chance to end up with a contract from the Bengals, is White. A solid player throughout his college career at Michigan State, White never truly stuck out to NFL coaches and scouts. But, he did catch the eye of the Montreal Alouettes and signed a contract in 2014. His first year was mildly productive as he played 12 games and recorded 29 tackles and an interception in the process. However, his production waned in 2015 despite playing a full 16-game season. That said, it was still enough to earn him a solid $125,000 contract in 2016, which is actually fairly high for the CFL.

Unfortunately for him, the team doubled back on their offer after he signed, informing him that he would likely be losing his starting position and would need to take a pay cut. Obviously, he wasn’t happy with that, so the Alouettes cut him. The three-year old Ottowa Redblacks picked him up on the free agent market and, to show his appreciation, he became their best cornerback with a career high 38 tackles and three interceptions. He helped the Redblacks build a strong defensive unit which, ultimately, was a big reason why they won the 2016 Grey Cup.

With the Bengals currently looking fairly thin at the cornerback position, they could be intrigued by this three-year CFL veteran who clearly takes adversity as an excuse to improve. Furthermore, leading up to the 2014 draft, White received comparison to Nate Ebner of the New England Patriots, who has established himself as one of the better special teams players in the NFL, recently signing a contract extension. If White flashes the same potential in his tryouts, he very well might turn out to be the next undrafted success story for a Bengals team that thrives on them.