In the last week, the Bengals have re-signed two long-time players on the team.
Running back Cedric Peerman was originally brought into the NFL by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He didn't last long in Baltimore and spent time with the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions in his rookie season. Peerman was waived by the Lions in April 2010, at which point the Bengals claimed him off waivers. He's been in Cincinnati ever since and it seemed like a given that the Bengals would re-sign the special teams captain and reserve running back this offseason. Even at 30-years-old (he'll turn 31 during the 2017 season) Peerman has proven to be a special teams ace and a player who instantly improves the often-forgotten third unit whenever he's on the field.
“If you don’t have a great a lead singer, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a great band,” Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons said of the team re-signing Burkhead. “It’s huge for us. He’s a foundation of what we do.”
After the Bengals failed to re-sign Rex Burkhead (who led the team in special teams tackles in 2016) and then cut James Wright (who ranked second in special teams tackles in 2016), getting Peerman back into the fold became even more important. Peeman made the 2015 Pro Bowl due to his special teams impact and elevated the unit once again as soon as he returned from a forearm injury in Week 13.
Peerman was injured during the 2016 preseason and placed on Injured Reserve after the 53-man roster was crafted, making him eligible for the Bengals’ lone IR Designation to Return tag. Rookie first round draft pick William Jackson III was also eligible for the tag as he was placed on IR due to a training camp pectoral injury. Jackson was the frontrunner for the tag all season, but when running back Giovani Bernard tore his ACL in Week 12, the plan changed and Peerman was the one moved to the active roster. He showed off his ability not as a running back (he only had six carries in 2016), but by boosting the special teams unit upon his return. Now, Peerman is back to once again lead the special teams unit and ensure some leadership remains there following Burkhead’s departure.
Gilberry entered the league as an undrafted free agent signing by the New York Giants. Much like Peeman, he bounced around in his rookie season, spending time with the Chiefs, too. It was in Kansas City where Gilberry got his first real shot at playing time in the NFL. He stayed with the Chiefs until 2012, at which point he was a free agent, and was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But, Gilberry was cut in early September and joined the Bengals days later. He did well in that first season in Cincinnati (24 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 3 fumble recoveries. That season netted him a three year extension in Cincinnati the following offseason. Gilberry became a free agent in 2016 and the Bengals actually let him walk to sign with the Detroit Lions. Both Gilberry and the Bengals learned their lessons as Gilberry was cut a few weeks into the regular season and the Bengals missed him so badly that the team re-signed him in Week 9. For those reasons, it made sense that Gilberry received little interest on the open market in 2017 and that the Bengal re-signed him as an insurance policy for the upcoming season. A big part of why the Bengals needed Gilberry so desperately in the middle of last season was injuries that hit the defensive line, though primarily at defensive tackle. 2016 fourth round draft pick Andrew Billings suffered a training camp injury and 2015 fourth round draft pick Marcus Hardison suffered a preseason injury. On top of that, there was hope that defensive ends Margus Hunt and Will Clarke would make a big jump in production from their prior years in Cincinnati. But neither was impactful enough to make up for Gilberry’s loss and the injuries that occurred. On top of that, starter Michael Johnson took a step back in production in 2016, which further hurt the unit. Gilberry has been used as both a tackle and end so having his versatility and leadership back in Cincinnati was helpful in the second half of the season.
Upon his return to Cincinnati, Gilberry did experience a calf injury that kept him from fully living up to his potential, but he still made a positive impact when on the field as a rotational pass rusher. In five games, he made 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks. That wasn't too bad as the Bengals totaled just 33.0 sacks on the season. Only Michael Johnson (3.0), Carlos Dunlap (8.0), Geno Atkins (9.0) and Will Clarke (4.0) had more sacks on the season, and all four of those players played full 16-game seasons. The Bengals may end up cutting Gilberry before the start of the 2017 NFL season, but, this signing provides some much-needed insurance as the only other defensive ends currently on the roster are Ryan Brown (who spent 2016 on the practice squad), Clarke, Dunlap and Johnson. The Bengals will look to add an impactful defensive end in the draft, too, maybe two.
What do you think of the Gilberry and Peerman signings?
What do you think of the Peerman and Gilberry signings?
This poll is closed
Necessary, low-risk moves
No reason not to re-sign them
Bengals should have moved on