With the big NFL Free agency wave having passed, it's time for a look at the Bengals roster and who may now have a bit of job uncertainty next season.
For this piece, we're taking a look at Bengals who were on the 53-man roster in 2014 and/or 2015, but are now on the roster bubble heading into the 2016 season. It includes a few big names who played significant snaps last year, but also some guys who already were struggling to keep their spots on the roster.
After a promising rookie season in 2014, Marquis Flowers was poised to make the final roster in 2015 before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in the preseason that led to him going on I.R.
Flowers, selected in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL draft out of Arizona, played every game as a rookie, including a start against the Broncos. He finished with five tackles and three more on special teams along with a pass deflection.
At this point, I consider Vontaze Burfict , Rey Maualuga, Vinny Rey, P.J. Dawson and Karlos Dansby as near-locks to make the final roster next year. Even with Burfict suspended to open the year, Flowers is very much on the roster bubble after Dansby was signed, not to mention Jayson DiManche returning and Trevor Roach showing promise as an undrafted free agent last year.
But Flowers isn't the only backer very much on the roster bubble...
As of now, I think A.J. Hawk will make the final roster, but he's firmly on the bubble now that Flowers is healthy and Karlos Dansby has been signed. Even with Emmanuel Lamur leaving in free agency, this is too crowded of a position for everyone who deserves a roster spot to actually get one.
And it's not like Hawk lit the world on fire last season as a part-time role player. He finished the year with 24 tackles and one sack while appearing in all 16 games (11 starts). He also averaged just 16.4 snaps per game over the last seven games of last year (including playoffs), so it's not like the 32-year-old is giving them much.
This will be a hard question for the Bengals to answer when final roster cuts come around: Do they keep Hawk and hope the veteran has enough left in the tank to give Cincinnati one more good year, or do they cut him to keep a younger guy like Flowers who may have a long and bright career ahead of him?
With the Bengals re-signing Brandon Thompson and Pat Sims, they now have 10 quality defensive lineman under contract. While most of them are defensive tackles, almost all of them have done more in their NFL careers than Margus Hunt.
Now entering his fourth season and the final year of his rookie contract, Hunt has just 12 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one pass deflection in 29 career games. The former second-round pick out of SMU has shown almost nothing to suggest he's going to be a productive player for Cincinnati.
Part of having Hunt on the roster bubble depends on what happens with Marcus Hardison. If the Bengals feel he's best used as a defensive end, then Hunt is really facing an uphill climb to make next year's roster. But if Hardison sticks to defensive tackle full time, Hunt may end up making the final roster by default.
Either way, Hunt is on the roster bubble just because of how little he's done to this point, and I'd rather keep an extra defensive tackle like DeShawn Williams than give Hunt another chance to disappoint.
Who do you have on the bubble at this point in the offseason?