After last offseason when fans and the media alike tried to create a quarterback controversy when there was none, this season there's no quarterback battle (theoretical or otherwise) in Cincinnati. The Bengals are set at quarterback heading into the 2016 NFL season. Andy Dalton is the indisputable starter and AJ McCarron proved last year he's a more than capable backup. As long as the two remain healthy, they should be the only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster come September.
But for now, there are four quarterbacks on the Bengals' 90-man roster. Keith Wenning, the third most experienced quarterback on the team, was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster in Week 15 of the 2015 season due to Dalton's season-ending thumb injury. Wenning should have an edge to make the practice squad once again in 2016, if the Bengals feel he's developing and could turn into either a serviceable backup or starter down the line.
Then, there's rookie Joe Licata who was signed by the Bengals on May 16th, a few weeks after the 2016 NFL Draft. The Bengals originally signed Matt Johnson out of Bowling Green State University after the Draft, but once the team tried out Licata in mid-May they waived Johnson in favor of Licata. So, who is Licata and what are his chances of making the roster?
Weight: 210 pounds
Contract status (per Spotrac):
College stats: Licata threw for 2,969 yards, 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 2015 for Buffalo with a 62.4-percent completion percentage and 123 passer rating. Licata is a particularly ineffective rusher, totaling negative yards on the ground in each of his four seasons at Buffalo.
According to Bull Run, SB Nation's Buffalo blog, Licata's football IQ and composure in the pocket are what make him standout. On the flipside, Bull Run also points out that Licata isn't a dual threat nor an elite athlete.
After his senior season, Johnson was named MAC Offensive Player of the Year, first team All-MAC and earned the Sammy Baugh Award, which is awarded to the nation’s top passer each season.
Chances of making the roster: Even the most optimistic prediction couldn't have Licata making the Bengals' 53-man roster. If he proves his worth as a developmental quarterback, he could earn a spot on the practice squad and push Wenning off the team. But, there's not much at this point to suggest he's much more than a camp body. Licata tried out for the Bills at their rookie minicamp but wasn't signed by the team following his tryout. The Bills' quarterback group is weaker than the Bengals' so if he couldn't cut it there, it's unlikely his odds in Cincinnati are much better.
Of course, it's early and there haven't been many -- if any -- reports on how Licata is doing in OTAs, but he'll need a very strong showing in training camp and the preseason to even make the practice squad.