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Bengals Mailbag: Late free agency signings, facing villains

This week, we were asked questions ranging from the dark chapters of the Bengals' history to some more light-hearted queries.

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It's the slower part of the summer NFL calendar, but the questions we have been receiving are more and more entertaining. This week, we received a couple of questions that play into the legacy of the 2016 Bengals squad, but also one for the Sci-Fi geeks out there.

Be sure to send us your questions to be featured in this Cincy Jungle feature!

It's a relevant question, based on some recent news surrounding both the future Hall of Fame defensive end Dwight Freeney and the longtime Bengals defensive back, Leon Hall. After nine years of service in Cincinnati, Hall is currently a free agent and is deciding between the Cardinals and the Bengals to suit up for in 2016.

Last we heard, Freeney was still weighing his options, which includes the Bengals, but he'll likely be a guy someone signs as teams gauge their roster situation through training camp and the preseason. Regardless of where he lands, Freeney should be able to contribute to a team this year, given his eight sacks in 11 games with Arizona last year.

The conundrum is that both Freeney and Hall are valued as premium defensive positions on any roster. If you're Marvin Lewis, cornerbacks seem to take a front seat, given his drafting of five players at the position in the first round over his 14 Bengals Draft classes. However, the prevailing thought among most who follow the sport is that quality defensive ends, along with a proper scheme, can make a lot of corners quality NFL players.

For the moment, take a look at both the defensive end and cornerback position groups on the Bengals' roster. While the former has a number of unproven and/or players who are still finding their niche in the league, Cincinnati has four first rounders and another promising 2015 fourth rounder in Josh Shaw in the position group. Additionally, the Bengals allowed Reggie Nelson to leave for the Raiders and showed a big amount of faith in both George Iloka and Shawn Williams this offseason. Behind them are other unproven players in Derron Smith, as well as the underachieving Taylor Mays, but the coaches seem to like both quite a bit.

At defensive end, however, the Bengals are set at the starting spots with Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap, but questions are aplenty behind them. Margus Hunt and Will Clarke have all the tools in the world, but have yet to put things together to be valuable NFL contributors. Even though Dunlap and Johnson play a huge amount of snaps, the team still prefers to have valuable rotators to come in on passing situations. Hunt and Clarke have the potential, as does Marcus Hardison, but none have proven it in regular season play. In fact, Hardison has never played an NFL snap in the regular season.

For that reason, I lean towards Freeney as the better choice for the Bengals in 2016. Even though there are some questions in the secondary, particularly if the dreaded injury bug strikes, there are a couple of factors that make Freeney a bit of a hotter commodity.

Aside from defensive end usually taking precedence, in terms of positional value, the uncertainty with Hunt and Clarke, coupled with Freeney's more recent production over Hall's makes him a bit more valuable. Sure, Freeney had just nine sacks from 2012-2014, but his performance last year proved what he can do with a talented surrounding cast, as the Bengals currently have.

While Hall wouldn't be a bad addition as a swingman in the secondary, especially as Mays serves a four-game suspension, I think Freeney would have a bigger impact and see more playing time with the club in 2016.


Time for some levity, courtesy of old friend Jared (AKA @IrishFootball11 on Twitter).

Confession time: even though I love Star Wars and other science fiction movies, I have never seen a full Harry Potter movie. I've seen about 20 minutes of one on a red eye plane ride a few years back, but my knowledge of Voldemort and all things J.K. Rowling are very limited. The same definitely goes with my lack of knowledge of the Star Trek universe because of my overall disinterest. Judge me if you will, CJ faithful, but that's the kind of guy you're dealing with here.

From what I know, Voldemort is a pretty gnarly spectre in the in Potter universe, who appeared in the films and books. Wizardry is something that is always intimidating, and though I don't know the extent of the powers of Voldemort, I can use other fictitious beings like J.R.R. Tolkien's Gandalf or Saruman as benchmarks. Scary stuff.

It also depends on which Vader we're talking about. Is it the badass who force-choked his supposed allies in Episodes IV and V, or the weaker and more emotionally-driven old man we saw in Return of the Jedi? Also, with the increase of technology from 1977 to the most recent 2015 addition to the franchise, we can further see the true powers of Jedi Knights, seeming to give Vader a bit more of intrigue with decades of wonder. Whether it's the light side or the dark, it's those skills that little kids often pantomime when goofing around with their friends.

Do you go with the enemy you know, or the one you don't? Usually it's the former, and as is the case in football, you can plan out out an offensive and defensive attack. However, no matter how unique and popular the Harry Potter series is, I can't give any other villain the benefit of the doubt over the power of who once was Anakin Skywalker and his ultimate stance as one of the biggest villains in film history.

So, if you're placing me in a locked cage with one of the two, I'll take Voldemort, as suffocating at the hands of your opponent when he isn't even placing his hands on you, sounds utterly miserable.

How about you? Let's turn this comments thread into a Darth Vader or Voldemort discussion.