It has been a rough offseason for the Bengals on the injury front. Players like Tyler Eifert, Cedric Peerman, Brandon Thompson, William Jackson III and Andrew Billings have all suffered injuries that will either keep them out for a significant amount of time or the whole season. In addition, injuries to Jake Fisher, Cedric Ogbuehi, and Tyler Kroft will keep them out for the rest of the preseason and potentially the Bengals’ regular season opener in New York.
When asked yesterday if the Bengals could look at players who were cut by their teams this week Marvin Lewis said it was possible.
“We’re very open,” Lewis said via Cincinnati.com. “We’ll look at what the other 31 teams do and see if there is somebody that maybe upgrades us in a spot.”
It seems the Bengals will browse the waiver wire and free agency to look for players who can fill open spots on the depth chart while guys are recovering. Don’t expect any of these suggestions to fill starting roles, or even necessarily get signed by the Bengals at all. But, while the Bengals are giving the ‘next man up’ the opportunity to make an impact, these players could potentially be used as reserve options while also providing bodies on special teams.
DL Nick Hayden
If there are two things the Bengals like on their roster, it’s versatile guys and players they are familiar with. Nick Hayden, who spent the 2011 season with the Bengals, albeit mostly on the injury list, and has experience at both defensive tackle and defensive end fits both of those categories.
The Bengals need help at defensive tackle with both Brandon Thompson and Andrew Billings injured. The hope is that DeShawn Williams and Marcus Hardison can step up, but it would be nice to have a reserve option like Hayden just in case something else happens. In addition, he could potentially help fill in if something should happen at defensive end, seeing as Margus Hunt still doesn’t look ready.
TE Matthew Mulligan
An option to shore up the tight end depth is career journeyman Matthew Mulligan, who has spent time on the practice squad or active roster with 10 different NFL teams in his eight year career.
For the most part, Mulligan is a decent blocker and pass catcher who has recorded 17 receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns in his career. He isn’t going to make waves or become the next star free agent for the Bengals, but, he would be a decent player to throw into the reserve mix if the Bengals decide they aren’t comfortable with only Uzomah and Lengel.
OT Cameron Jefferson
There are a few problems at offensive tackle for the Bengals. One of those problems is that both Fisher and Ogbuehi are injured. Another problem is the fact that Andrew Whitworth is getting older and probably shouldn’t be playing an extended number of snaps in the preseason. Eric Winston will be 33 in November, so he is also getting up there in age. That means that Trey Hopkins, John Weidenaar and Aaron Epps will be taking the majority of the snaps against the Colts. If Ogbuehi and Fisher’s injuries extend into the regular-season, the Bengals could use some help at the position.
Cameron Jefferson isn’t the kind of player who is going to push anyone out of their spot on the roster. But, he was a reserve lineman for the Broncos’ championship squad last year. There aren’t really a whole lot of highly sought after offensive tackles in free agency right now, but the Bengals need available bodies with a bit of experience at the position more than they need talent and potential right now.
RB Storm Johnson
In the wake of the devastating break to Peerman’s arm, the Bengals might be scrambling to find someone who can temporarily replace his production as a reserve running back and special teams player. The former Jaguars running back and recent preseason casualty for the Buccaneers could be a good pickup to fill those needs.
Due to the relatively good play by Tra Carson so far this preseason, the Bengals might not even be looking at a possible free agent signing. But, Johnson already has a full year of experience on an NFL roster. At one time, he looked like he might have turned out to be a decent player for the Jaguars, even starting in one game, before he disappeared late in the season and was cut the following offseason. That said, if the Bengals don’t feel like Carson or Bronson Hill are ready for the final roster, Johnson could be a decent addition to add as the fourth running back while Peerman recovers.