The Cincinnati Bengals have a talented and deep group of running backs, which makes Cedric Peerman one of the more intriguing players to watch in the preseason.
Where does the veteran running back and special teams ace stand on the current depth chart, and will he keep his spot on the 53-man roster in 2017?
Weight: 212 pounds
Hometown: Gladys, VA
Experience: Eighth-year player in 2017
Draft Status: Sixth round pick in 2009 by the Baltimore Ravens
This offseason, Peerman signed a one year, $1.15 million contract with the Bengals. Peerman received a $100,000 signing bonus. If cut, Peerman will trigger a dead cap hit of $100,000 for the Bengals, according to Over The Cap.
Peerman has played with three AFC North teams, originally joining the NFL as a Ravens draft pick. He didn't make it past final cuts with the Ravens in his rookie year and was claimed off waivers by the Browns. Soon after, he was cut by the Browns and signed with the Lions. He lasted there through his rookie season, but was waived the following spring. At that point, the Bengals picked him up and he's stuck around in Cincinnati ever since that April 2010 day.
Peerman missed most of the 2016 season after breaking his forearm in the preseason. He was chosen to come off of Injured Reserve late in the year after the team was considering William Jackson III for that as well.
However, running back was a far greater need than cornerback with Giovani Bernard (ACL) and Jeremy Hill (neck, knee) both injured during the season. Bernard’s injury was season ending in Week 11, which led to Peerman’s Week 12 return to the 53-man roster.
Once Peerman returned to the team, plenty of areas of the special teams improved significantly. PFF even named him the best return blocker last season. He finished the year with three total tackles and six rushes for 15 yards.
Peerman’s role in Cincinnati has been nearly exclusively on special teams, both as a coverage guy and a blocker on the return units. He excels in both roles and was even a Pro Bowl special teams selection in 2015.
But Peerman is essentially a ghost when it comes to actually running the ball. During the last four seasons, Peerman has just 29 carries for 75 yards and one fumble to go with three catches for 27 yards.
Don’t expect the Bengals to start giving the ninth-year running back any offensive touches this season, but his value on special is still very important to this team, which is why he was re-signed this spring.
Even considering how important as Peerman is on special teams, he may not be guaranteed a spot on the 53-man roster for the 2017 season. With Hill and Bernard still on the roster in addition to second-round rookie Joe Mixon and promising undrafted free agent Boom Williams, Peerman is going to have to earn his roster spot this year. On top of that, many of the rookies and second year players could fill in on special teams admirably, even if they’re not quite yet at his level in that regard.
However, Bernard is recovering from a torn ACL and could open the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, meaning he won’t count against the 53-man roster. It does look like Bernard will avoid PUP as of now, but he’ll still be brought along very slowly and could be inactive for the first couple of games.
That’s why Peerman’s chances of making the initial 53-man roster are high for the time being. And with Hill’s contract set to expire in 2018, it’s possible Peerman remains in Cincinnati for several more years, even at 30-years-old (turns 31 in September).
And with Rex Burkhead, the Bengals’ special teams tackling leader from 2016, and James Wright, who ranked second in special teams tackles, now elsewhere, keeping Peerman for his impact on special teams will likely be an easy decision for the Bengals to make.
However if young players shine on special teams in the preseason, Peerman’s long-time spot on the roster could be snatched away. Many believe Peerman is a shoo-in to make the roster, but that’s really not the case with 11 draft picks and many more undrafted rookies looking to make their mark.
Roster Odds: 65 percent.