There seems to be a lot of uncertainty around the Bengals and free agency this year. However, one thing that we can say for sure is that Reggie Nelson wants to return to Cincinnati in 2016. Nelson recently told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, "I would love to be a Bengal. I did my part. I played football. It’s time to handle business and we’ll go from there."
It seems like a no-brainer for the Bengals to re-sign Nelson, especially if he genuinely wants to come back. Not only did he tie the league led in interceptions last year (8), but he recovered two fumbles and generally played well enough to be rewarded with his first Pro Bowl appearance. Unfortunately, he couldn't play in the Pro Bowl due to an injury suffered in the Bengals' Wild Card loss to he Steelers. Given the return of his old defensive backs coach, Kevin Coyle, the Bengals would love to have his steady experience there as a calming factor in a time of transition.
The primary issue as the Bengals decide whether or not to re-sign Nelson is his age. At 32, and turning 33 just about a week after the 2016 NFL season kicks off, both parties have to know that there's a chance of this being his last significant contract. The Bengals have a history of focusing on re-signing their own players as opposed to trying to bring in new talent, if they can help it. Based on his stat line last season, it's hard to argue with Nelson when he said he's done his part in proving he deserves to be back with the Bengals in 2016. It's unfortunate that his season had to end the way it did with an ankle injury in the Wild Card game, but going forward there's no reason to not like the idea of re-signing him.
And even his ankle injury shouldn't be a concern going forward. "(The ankle) is good. It's ready to go," Nelson told Hobson.
That's very encouraging to hear. The Bengals potentially faced a bleak future the following week against the Patriots, even if they hadn't collapsed at the end of the Wild Card round against the Steelers. Going forward, his ankle being a non-issue will likely be a big factor for the Bengals as they consider resigning him.
Regarding the playoff loss, Nelson sounds like he's still not over Mike Munchak's actions toward him. "If it had been the other way around, if I put my hands on a coach, I think I would have been suspended with no pay for four of five games," Nelson said. "Everybody is accountable. I think it should have been more than what it was... I think there should have been an apology. Whatever he wanted to do. Call me personally. Or whatever."
Nelson is one of the many people within the Bengals organization and fanbase who are excited about the prospect of Coyle returning. "He wants to win and he coaches technique" Nelson said, "He knows the defense. It's not like he's coming in blind and has to study all this stuff. He's familiar with Paulie and Paulie is familiar with him. I think it's a great move. They do a great job hiring coaches." he said.
If there is one thing that Nelson is certain about, it's that, "I love playing for KC." Luckily for the Bengals and their fans, he's talking about Kevin Coyle, not the Kansas City Chiefs.