During the offseason there was buzz that Ryan Hewitt was among the list of players the Bengals wanted to re-sign before the season began. On Tuesday morning, the Bengals were able to check Hewitt off their list as they locked him up with a three-year contract extension, keeping him in Cincinnati through the 2019 season.
The former undrafted fullback/h-back out of Stanford played a big part in Jeremy Hill’s success in 2014 and likely a big part in his drop off in success last year as the Bengals used the I-formation less, which was a highly successful look for the team in 2014. That’s not Hewitt’s fault, it was simply a matter of the play calling, but it will be interesting to see if the Bengals go back to using the I-formation more often to get Hill and Hewitt gelling together as we saw they were capable of 2014.
"You really need that guy to be able to do multiple things," Andrew Whitworth told the Cincinnati Enquirer in 2015 of the modern fullback, the role Hewitt has owned since arriving in Cincinnati. "That’s what Ryan has the ability to do. We can still go run the ball in the ‘I’ if we need to, but he’s having that ability to move around and do a lot of different things. Now, when he’s in the game, you can’t just expect you’re going to get I-formation. That makes us that much better."
As an undrafted player, Hewitt was set to make $603,334 this year after making just $513,333 in 2015 and $423,333 in 2014. Per the Enquirer, Hewitt will receive about $2 million this season and will make between $2-3 million annually over the length of the deal. Per Over The Cap, only four NFL fullbacks make more than $2 million per year.
Hewitt hasn’t been used in the passing game too often, but last year’s game at Buffalo was one of his best performances of the season. He had this reception in the game and also had another should-be catch, but it was ruled an incompletion.
Here you can get a look at his blocking and why he helps Hill achieve big yardage.
Hewitt's value to the Bengals was seen in Week 16 last season, when he went down with a knee injury early on in the game against the Broncos. Hewitt is from Colorado and was really looking forward to playing in Denver, but, he only saw a few snaps before that injury cut his season short. In a game that came down to an AJ Mccarron fumble in overtime, any injured player could have been the difference.
Due to Hewitt's injury, the Bengals ended up changing Jake Fisher's number to 44 and using him as a fullback in Week 17 and the Wild Card game to fill in for Hewitt. And while Fisher did a good job in relief of Hewitt, he wasn't able to replicate the success Hewitt has demonstrated on a consistent basis. Hewitt may be the most under-the-radar starter on the team; he's someone who performs at a consistently high level week in and week out, usually without recognition.
Hewitt is a great asset to the Bengals and could even develop into one of the NFL’s best fullbacks. His signing follows the Bengals' method of rewarding their best players and those who produce at a level worthy of a pay raise. Like Vontaze Burfict, the Bengals' most successful current undrafted player, Hewitt was extended after just two seasons in Cincinnati.
So, do you approve of the Bengals’ decision to extend Hewitt? We sure do.