Anyone who follows the Bengals knows Cincinnati is a team that passes on big-name free agency every year.
However, Cincinnati will dip into the market of players who’ve been recently cut by their previous team. That’s because players who’ve been cut in the same year are not only usually cheap to sign, but they also do not count against compensatory picks for the NFL Draft.
The Bengals tend to lose a key free agent or two in most years, and this year is no different. Between Dre Kirkpatrick, Kevin Zeitler, Andrew Whitworth, Domata Peko and Karlos Dansby, the Bengals could net several compensatory picks in the 2018 draft, based on players who depart this offseason.
That, coupled with the team’s history is why we shouldn’t expect the Bengals to sign anyone who becomes a free agent on March 9, but we should expect them to pursue some of the guys who have been cut since the 2016 season ended.
Among those players is defensive tackle Jared Odrick, who was just released by the Jaguars. Back in 2015, Odrick signed a 5-year, $42-million contract with Jacksonville, who wound up using him as a 4-3 defensive end, despite his previous success in Miami coming as a 4-3 defensive tackle.
Odrick played as an end for a couple of seasons before having most of his success as a tackle from 2013-14, so that’s probably what he should stick to with his next team. It just so happens the Bengals are badly in need of defensive line depth this offseason, and Odrick fits the bill.
His experience as an end will help get him a lot of snaps for a team badly lacking in that area. He might end up being an upgrade over Michael Johnson, which sadly isn’t saying much based on the past two years.
But Odrick being able to kick inside makes him more valuable to a Bengals team that loves versatile linemen on both sides of the trenches. There may not be a cap casualty player on the market right now that’s a better fit for the Bengals than Odrick. At 29-years-old, he could be had for a decent price while having some good years left in the tank. There are some reports that Odrick's off-the-field interests caused friction in Jacksonville, so that could be something the Bengals look into if the team brings him in for a workout.
Another linemen the Bengals should kick the tires on is Earl Mitchell. Recently cut by the Dolphins, Mitchell is another solid 4-3 tackle who should come on the cheap this offseason. He’s played both nose tackle and defensive tackle, so he’d be a nice addition to a Bengals team that needs more beef in the middle, especially if Peko is let go, as he should be.
On the other side of the trenches, Brandon Fusco is one of the few guards who the Bengals will be able to afford this offseason if they want more depth here. Fusco has spent most of his career at right guard, where Kevin Zeitler has played. And, with the expectation that Zeitler will depart in free agency, signing a free agent guard could be in the cards.
Fusco is coming off a dismal 2016 season, but the 28-year-old has had some solid years remaining in his NFL career. He may have a few left for a Bengals team that’s going to need help at guard this coming season if Zeitler does leave.
If defensive end is something the Bengals look to shore up, Mario Williams is the most notable true end on the market after being cut by the Dolphins. He looked like a shell of himself in Miami, though he still should have enough left in the tank to be a decent rotational lineman if he’s willing to accept that kind of role.
We’ve already touched on how the Bengals should consider quarterback Josh McCown after the Browns cut him this offseason, but only if AJ McCarron is traded. Otherwise, there’s no sense in adding another quarterback to the roster.
Here’s a look at all of the notable player who have been cut so far this offseason:
- Jared Odrick, DT, Jaguars.
- Leodis McKelvin, CB, Eagles.
- Mike Tolbert, FB, Panthers.
- Brandon Fusco, G, Vikings.
- Sam Shields, CB, Packers.
- Paul Soliai, DT, Panthers.
- Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants.
- Josh McCown, QB, Browns.
- Justin Gilbert, CB, Steelers.
- D'Qwell Jackson ILB, Colts.
- Earl Mitchell, DT, Dolphins.
- Mario Williams, DE, Dolphins.
- Victor Cruz, WR, Giants
- Tramon Williams, CB, Browns.
- James Starks, RB, Packers.
Do any of these names pique your interest?