Ryan Brown has a tall task in front of him. He is trying to find a spot on the Cincinnati Bengals’ roster at the defensive end position. The problem is, defensive end is easily going to be one of the hardest spots to crack on the roster. The Bengals have drafted and traded for players who will make it quite the battle for Brown, who spent 2016 on the team’s practice squad and is back in 2017 fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster.
College: Mississippi State
Hometown: Marrero, LA
Experience: First-year Player
Brown is currently signed to a two-year, $1,020,000 contract with the Bengals, including an average annual salary of $510,000. In 2017, Brown will earn a base salary of $465,000, but there will be no dead cap if he’s waived, according to Spotrac.
Brown is currently scheduled to be an exclusive rights free agent in 2019.
Brown joined the Bengals following the 2016 NFL Draft as a college free agent. He made it all the way to the final cuts before the team eventually waived him, but he ended up on the practice squad. He remained there all season and was given a futures contract at the end of the year, landing him on the offseason roster again this year.
Brown played for four years at Mississippi State where he had 7.5 sacks and 106 tackles. He was regarded as a leader in college, and his teammates even gave him the nickname “grandpa.” He was actually younger than most of his defensive line counterparts, but he was far more serious and mature than the others.
Brown played through several injuries in his last two seasons in college, which somewhat explain his lack of production. He showed great fundamentals during his rookie preseason in Cincinnati, despite not recording a sack, but the Bengals seem to believe he’s a player worth hanging onto.
Last year the Bengals went with Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson as their starters, and Margus Hunt and Will Clarke as their backups at defensive end. The team also added Wallace Gilberry in the middle of the season, adding to the unit. Brown seemed like a long shot to make the roster last year, and he ultimately still ended up on the practice squad.
This season is a very different story. The Bengals started adding competition at the position when they traded for Chris Smith from Jacksonville. Then during the draft Cincinnati added two more pass rushers who had fallen further than expected in Jordan Willis (Round 3) and Carl Lawson (Round 4). Lawson is currently being tested out as a linebacker, but the team will still likely give him snaps at defensive end during passing situations, which hurts a guy at the bottom of the roster like Brown. Not to mention, the Bengals brought back Gilberry again, and Clarke is still on the roster.
Brown has an uphill battle to get back on the roster, and it is hard to imagine the Bengals will keep him over someone like Clarke or Gillberry, who have regular season experience. It is far more likely Brown ends up on the practice squad again this year. Maybe he will be promoted to the team if there’s an injury, but, unless Brown lights the world on fire this season, don’t expect him to crack the 53-man roster.
Roster odds: 3 percent.