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QB Joe Licata joins Bengals; Bowling Green's Matt Johnson waived

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Matt Johnson lasted just a few weeks before being waived in favor of Joe Licata.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals are making a move at quarterback as Matt Johnson has been waived while quarterback Joe Licata is signing with the team.

Licata, a former University at Buffalo star, scored a tryout with the Bengals today, and apparently did enough that the team wanted to sign him and even part ways with Johnson, who signed with the Bengals following the Draft. Licata threw for 2,969 yards, 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 2015 with a 62.4-percent completion percentage and 123 passer rating.

"People get infatuated with arm strength but what makes the greats great is anticipation and accuracy," Licata said via The Buffalo News. "And I think that's my greatest strength on the field. People want measurables. People want the 6-5 guy who can run a 4.6 and throw the ball through a wall. But there's not a lot of guys who can think the game too."

While Licata's senior season wasn't much to brag about, he did toss a combined 53 touchdowns vs just 19 interceptions over his sophomore and junior years. He also completed nearly 65-percent of his passes in 2014.

SEASON CMP ATT YDS CMP% YPA LNG TD INT SACK RAT
2015 280 449 2969 62.4 6.61 78 16 15 16 123
2014 224 345 2647 64.9 7.67 92 29 11 16 150.7
2013 233 402 2824 58 7.03 62 24 8 19 132.7
2012 86 163 1045 52.8 6.41 44 7 3 16 117.1


Licata was tabbed by NFL Draft Scout as the 43rd-ranked quarterback prospect in this year's draft, so it came as no surprise when he wasn't drafted or immediately signed following the draft.

Still, this comes as a bit of a surprise as Johnson was viewed as one of the top undrafted free agent signings this offseason. The former Bowling Green Falcons star was one of the most efficient passers in college football this past year.

Johnson finished the 2015 season throwing for 4,946 passing yards, enough to break multiple Bowling Green and MAC records. His passing yard total broke Ben Roethlisberger's conference record, and his 46 touchdown passes (second in the nation) are a MAC record.

After his senior season, Johnson was named MAC Offensive Player of the Year, named first team All-MAC and earned the Sammy Baugh Award, which is awarded to the nation’s top passer each season.

But as NFL.com's Lance Zierlein writes, Johnson's size, throwing mechanics and getting a lot of his numbers from short and quick passes will make it very hard for the Bowling Green product to make it in the NFL. It looks like the Bengals saw enough of this to part ways with him before OTAs continue later this month.