It may be a little while before we know just how serious the injuries suffered by cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones really are. What we do know is that their absence, however long it may be, leaves the Cincinnati Bengals very thin at a position that is of the utmost importance in the pass-happy NFL.
As thin as the Bengals are, the pool of remaining cornerbacks in the NFL free agent pool may be even thinner. But there are some possibilities, should the Bengals decide that there is a need to kick some tires.
And there are a couple of names available that are more than a little familiar to Cincinnati. Tops on that list is former Bengal Leon Hall. Hall was drafted by the Bengals with the 18th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft and starred with Cincinnati over the course of nine years.
Although the Bengals allowed Hall to go to the New York Giants in free agency after the 2015 seasons, his skills as a top-tier defensive back were still very much in evidence. On December 2, 2015, Hall was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after he recorded six tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown against the then-St. Louis Rams.
After departing Cincinnati, Hall played in 12 games for the Giants last year, recording 29 total tackles, an interception and two sacks.
Another former Bengal, Chris Lewis-Harris, was signed by the Bengals as an undrafted free agent after the 2012 NFL Draft and bounced around between the practice squad the active roster for a number of years.
Lewis-Harris got his most work in 2016 when he appeared in seven games for the Bengals and recorded an interception. He was released in November of that year and immediately signed by the Baltimore Ravens, where he appeared in another seven games. He signed with the Denver Broncos earlier this year and was released on cutdown day.
Probably the biggest name on the list of available cornerbacks is Darrelle Revis, who was drafted by the New York Jets in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Revis’ skills as a top defensive back were so impressive that at one point he came to be known as "Revis Island."
At 32 years of age, those skills have certainly deteriorated to some extent, but not everyone agrees that he should no longer be considered among the top tier of NFL cornerbacks. Former teammate Buster Skrine told Good Morning Football that Revis "is one of the best corners to play right now. ... He can still play. He should still get a good deal. I think he's one of the better corners in the league."
Of course, Revis comes with some baggage, as he was charged with four felonies during a street fight in Pittsburgh earlier this year. All charges were eventually dismissed, but Revis has yet to find a home. The Bengals are very familiar with such issues and may be the perfect landing place for the seven-time Pro Bowler.
Leodis McKelvin was drafted by the Buffalo Bills with the 11th overall selection of the 2008 NFL Draft. He made the NFL’s All-Rookie team that year and rotated between the second and third cornerback for the Bills throughout much of his stay. His best season came in 2014, when he recorded 48 total tackles, eight pass deflections and four interceptions before breaking his ankle in the 10th game of the season.
McKelvin missed the first half of the 2015 season as he continued his recovery from the broken ankle, but came back in the second half to record 32 total tackles, nine pass deflections and two interceptions. He was released by the Bills in March of 2016 and signed immediately with the Philadelphia Eagles. He started 12 games with the Eagles last year 43 total tackles, 16 pass deflections and two interceptions, despite battling through hamstring problems for much of the season.
The final name on that list that is worthy of consideration is former Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields. Shields, who was signed by the Packers as an undrafted free agent following the 2010 NFL Draft, made the Pro Bowl as recently as 2014. Shields is only 29 years old but has suffered at least four concussions during his NFL career. He also saw his 2016 campaign derailed after suffering another concussion in the first game of the year against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Hopefully, the injuries to Kirkpatrick and Jones are minor, and both will be back in the lineup sooner rather than later. But, if the Bengals do need to go looking for cornerback help, there are at least some names worth talking about.