Heading into the offseason, the common thought was that the Bengals would bring back one of their two safeties hitting free agency, letting Shawn Williams take over as the team's second starter. That notion is becoming more and more clear, as the Bengals re-signed George Iloka. Because of this, Reggie Nelson is likely on his way out of Cincinnati.
I left out an important word on that #Bengals Reggie Nelson tweet. "They DON'T want him back". Cripes. Moving too fast for my own good.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) March 9, 2016
Cincinnati reportedly offered Nelson a two-year deal earlier in the week, but that offer might not still stand now that Iloka is on board. And if it did stand, Nelson could've ended up turning it down; after all, at least two teams are very interested in the Bengals safety.
Reggie Nelson has been a valued member of the Bengals, and he was one of the team's best contributors on a defense that emerged as one of football's best over the past several years. Wherever he goes, he'll likely be a solid contributor for at least the next two years, if not longer. His departure from Cincinnati has nothing to do with a lack of production; it just has to do with the team needing to prepare itself for the future.
Shawn Williams is now under the spotlight. If he can put together a solid 2016 season, he and Iloka will pair to be Cincinnati's safety duo of the future. If not, Josh Shaw, Derron Smith or perhaps someone who's not even on the roster could get a chance to tandem with Iloka in the Bengals' defensive backfield for years to come.