Cut days are never fun. Regardless of how poorly a player might perform in training camp, it’s hard to cheer for a guy losing his job and perhaps losing his last chance at playing for an NFL team. Football players dedicate their life to the sport, so seeing so many guys become unemployed in the span of a week is hard to watch. Assuming every NFL team has 90 players (which some likely don’t, but for the sake of the number game) that would mean there were 2,880 players on active rosters prior to the start of cuts this weekend. By Saturday, there will only be 1,696 players combined on each team’s 53-man roster. And then on Saturday, 320 additional players will be added back to the league via each team’s practice squad. Fortunately for some of the players cut this week, many NFL teams have significant needs at this time of the year and will potentially sign a few players who have already been cut to fill those needs.
Though they boast a deep team, the Bengals are no exception. Cincinnati has suffered multiple significant injuries to key rookies, as well as other injuries across the roster. Here are a few guys who could potentially help mitigate these losses and be brought in by the Bengals during the next week. Keep in mind though, adding another player from the outside means losing an additional player who is currently on the roster. The Bengals need to cut their roster down to 75 players by Tuesday and then to 53 players on Saturday.
1. Rueben Randle, wide receiver
The former Giants receiver signed a one-year deal to play for the Eagles this offseason after New York had seen enough from him. Despite the wideout’s gaudy 2015 numbers (57 catches, 797 yards, eight touchdowns), the Giants didn’t seem to be interested in bringing him back, likely because he reportedly struggled understanding the complexities of route-running and didn’t have superb hands.
With Brandon LaFell’s health in question and depth behind A.J. Green at the receiver position shaky at best, Randle could potentially make sense for Cincinnati. He doesn’t seem like a guy who would do well with two weeks to learn a system, but Randle’s ideal size and immense talent is too much to ignore. If LaFell ends up having issues with his injured hand, Randle might make some sense.
2. Chris Givens, wide receiver
Like Randle, Givens was cut by the Eagles on Sunday. The receiver began his career in St. Louis, before being traded to the Ravens last year for a future seventh-round pick. Givens, who ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at the 2012 NFL Combine, can stretch the field — something the Bengals seemed to be looking for in the draft process, considering they were reportedly high on former Notre Dame wideout Will Fuller.
Givens would likely be a number three or four, at best in Cincinnati, making Tyler Boyd the number two or three. Signing Givens would only really make sense if the Bengals wouldn’t expect LaFell to make an impact early on in the season.
3. Ross Martin, kicker
Martin, an undrafted rookie out of Duke, went 26-for-30 in college last year, and he was 4-for-4 on kicks from 50+ yards. The rookie drilled a 55-yarder against the Giants on Saturday, but the Jets — confident in incumbent kicker Nick Folk’s ability — cut Martin. The kicker was reportedly impressive in practice, but he “had a couple of hiccups” in his first two preseason appearances.
If Mike Nugent misses another kick this preseason, the Bengals should strongly consider giving Martin a shot.
4. Josh Boyce, wide receiver
Again, this signing would really only have a chance at happening if LaFell isn’t healthy to begin the season. While he’s yet to opt for surgery, it’s still a possibility at this point. Boyce is an interesting candidate because he’s a former college teammate of Andy Dalton’s who once caught 34 passes for 646 yards and six touchdowns, including a 93-yard bomb in Dalton’s final year at TCU. Boyce was a fourth-round selection in 2013 by the Patriots, but he wasn’t able to do much in New England. That Boyce was recently cut by the Browns might be concerning, but it makes sense, given Cleveland drafted four wide receivers in the 2016 draft and are likely clearing space on the roster for the youngsters. At this point in his career, Dalton should have some say in the Bengals’ roster moves on offense, especially at wide receiver, which makes Boyce a name to watch.
5. Arthur Lynch, tight end
Released by the Falcons over the weekend, Lynch — a fifth-round pick for the Dolphins in 2014 — makes sense as a potential addition simply because of the position he plays and the school he attended. At Georgia, the former teammate of A.J. Green tallied 890 yards and eight touchdowns over his final two seasons.
That he’s yet to catch a pass in his NFL career is very concerning, but the 26-year-old Lynch still has upside and would make sense, given the injuries to Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft. This signing would only happen if one of the two Tyler’s landed on the PUP list to begin the season, which means it isn’t a likely circumstance. Still, considering Lynch’s former draft pedigree and the Bengals’ love of former Georgia players, Lynch is a guy to keep an eye on.
6. Paul Kruger, edge defender
Kruger, who has played in the AFC North for in each of his seven NFL seasons, could potentially make sense for the Bengals. He’s yet to play in a 4-3 scheme at the NFL level, but he’s versatile enough to think there’s a chance he can make the transition to Cincinnati’s defensive scheme. One year removed from an 11-sack season in Cleveland, the edge defender has been excellent both against the run and the pass throughout his career, generating 33.5 sacks and 40 run stuffs in his seven-year career.
After letting veteran Wallace Gilberry walk in free agency, it would make sense to replace him with another veteran, seeing as the guys behind the two starting ends don’t look quite yet ready to make an immediate impact in 2016. It’s important to note the addition of Kruger is a longshot, but it still remains within the realm of possibility.
7. Terrance Knighton, nose tackle
Adding Knighton would be a solid move for the Bengals, whose two nose tackles are pretty much locks for the roster. Domata Peko has been good throughout the preseason, but his backup, Pat Sims, has been pretty inconsistent. Though Knighton has bounced around the NFL over the past two or three seasons, he’s still a quality player who was cut by a Patriots team that is deep at the position. Considering the Bengals aren’t exactly loaded at nose tackle, adding Knighton — who tallied 3.5 sacks, three pass deflections, eight run stuffs and a blocked kick over the past two seasons — would make a lot of sense.