The Cincinnati Bengals have reacquired J.J. Dielman. On Thursday, the team announced Dielman had been signed to the practice squad after hitting waivers on Wednesday.
Drafted by the Bengals in Round 5 with the 176th overall pick in this year's NFL Draft, Dielman was waived during final roster cuts by Cincinnati. The team hoped to re-sign him to the practice squad heading into Week 1, but the Los Angeles Rams claimed him off waivers. That’s where he spent the first week of the season before being waived on Wednesday to make room for Cornelius Lucas.
Once Dielman cleared waivers, the Bengals were quick to get him on the practice squad, filling the void left by Jake Elliott. Ironically, Elliott was also a fifth-round pick this year who was waived during final cuts. He was initially signed to the Bengals’ practice squad, but the Philadelphia Eagles signed him to their 53-man roster earlier this week.
Dielman fits the mold of offensive linemen the Bengals prefer in that he's very versatile and provides depth at multiple positions. He was a starting center and team captain for the Utah Utes in 2016 after starting all 26 games in 2014 and 2015 at the right tackle spot.
However, Dielman only appeared in five games last season before sustaining a season-ending leg injury. It’s unclear what exactly the injury was, but it was enough to end his season and help lead to him falling into Day 3 of the draft. Dielman also missed a good portion of Bengals OTAs, though he went through training camp with no reported setbacks.
Even so, the Bengals felt that Alex Redmond, T.J. Johnson and Christian Westerman earned those final interior lineman spots over Dielman. It’s also still unclear what Dielman’s long-term NFL position will be, but the kind of versatility he has is something the Bengals love.
Dielman had little chance of taking Russell Bodine’s starting center spot this year, but Bodine hits free agency in 2018. Having Dielman can be insurance in case Bodine goes elsewhere while also giving Cincinnati depth across the offensive line in 2017 if anyone on the 53-man roster is injured.