It's hard to find good defensive lineman, and it can be even harder to keep them under contract when they're low-paid backups.
So the Bengals should feel fortunate to get defensive tackle Pat Sims re-signed to a very manageable contract, at least based on what Tom Pelissero is reporting:
Pat Sims' deal with #Bengals is 2 years, $2.3M with $250K guaranteed. Can earn another $600K with playtime incentives/escalator.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 18, 2016
A two-year deal paying the big man just over $1 million per year is a very good deal for the Bengals. That $250,000 in guarantees will make it hard for the Bengals to cut him if they think the other tackles are out-performing him in training camp and the preseason, but that by no means guarantees he'll be on the roster next year.
And based on his previous contracts, that $1.15 million per year he'll make will be just the fifth-highest annual value he's earned in this career. Needless to say, the Bengals got a great value signing with this deal.
Given, Sims didn't play a lot in 2015, but when he did, he was quite effective and definitely deserved to play more. His specialty was his 6-2, 340-pound frame that added bulk and push to the middle of a defensive line that has lacked it when Sims was either out or not playing for the Bengals.
After the 2012 season concluded, the Bengals didn't make much of an effort to re-sign Sims, but it was more because they knew he was leaving with little playing time available in Cincinnati.
Sims had some injury issues during his Bengals career, but the bigger problem was playing time. The Bengals had four defensive tackles locked in at the time - their two starters (Domata Peko and Geno Atkins) and their two future guys (Devon Still and Brandon Thompson).
That led to Sims signing a 1 year, $1.75 million deal with the Raiders to become one of their starting defensive tackles. He racked up 54 total tackles and two sacks while becoming a force along their line in 2013. He signed another one-year deal in 2014 that paid him $2 million, but his production dropped a bit as he was used in more of a rotational role that year.
That led the Raiders to not re-signing him, leading to Sims taking a one-year, $870,000 deal with Cincinnati that didn't even ensure he'd make the final 53-man roster in 2015. Sims would make it through final cuts and go on to battle Brandon Thompson for backup tackle snaps.
Sims ended up not playing much this past season, appearing in just eight games while making 16 tackles. When he did play, Sims made his presence felt as he was a nice situational run-stuffer. He also helped contribute to a Bengals defense that finished seventh vs the run in 2015 after finishing 20th in 2014.
His best game came in Week 10 against the Houston Texans. Though he played just 20 snaps, Sims racked up a season-high six tackles and was instrumental in holding Houston to just 82 yards on 25 carries (3.3 ypc).
Sims' 69.4 PFF grade was just decimal points shy of their 'starter' tier of players, meaning he was essentially a quality backup who probably would have been a serviceable starter if needed. With Thompson possibly now gone, Sims' role could increase more in 2016 as he continues to be a key member of the defensive line rotation.