One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
But that is not always the case, especially in the NFL, where there is no such thing as trash - only treasures waiting to be mined. Saturday at 4 p.m. marked the deadline for teams to reduce their rosters to 53 players, and several big names were among the cuts. Now, it is time for teams to look for hidden treasures. But just how many of those players might actually help the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017? And who would the team need to give up in order to obtain that help?
1. T.J. Ward
Tops on that list of available players is former Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns strong safety T. J. Ward, who was drafted by the Browns in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Ward was selected to his first Pro Bowl and was named second-team All-Pro in 2013 with the Browns after finishing the season with 123 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble and 10 passes defensed.
Ward signed with Denver in 2014 and continued to perform at a Pro Bowl level. In 2015, he made his third straight trip to the Pro Bowl after finishing with 61 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and six passes defended. In Denver’s Super Bowl 50 victory over the Carolina Panthers, Ward recorded seven tackles, a pass defended, a fumble recovery, and an interception. He was ranked 68th by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016.
Ward was even more impressive last year with 87 total tackles, including 69 solos, an interception, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception.
With strong safety Shawn Williams out for at least the first couple of games and free safety George Iloka just finishing up his recovery from a hyperextended knee suffered in the first week of training camp, safety is one of the biggest areas of concern for the Bengals. But is it enough of a concern to cause Cincinnati to look for help outside of its own walls?
UPDATE: Ward was signed by the Buccaneers.
2. Dwight Lowery
If the Bengals are searching for safety help, another viable option might be Dwight Lowery, who was released by the Chargers today. Lowery, who was drafted by the Jets in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft, also played with the Jaguars, Falcons and Colts before being picked up by the Chargers last year to take the place of All-Pro safety Eric Weddle.
Although he is 31-years-old, Lowery, who is primarily a free safety, showed that he still had something left in the tank when he responded with 76 total tackles, four interceptions and a sack.
3. Jeremy Zuttah
Another area where the Bengals can use a little extra help is along the offensive line, which is considered by most analysts to be the real weak link on the Cincinnati roster. And there are a couple of offensive lineman who might be worthy of a look.
Jeremy Zuttah has proven to be the type of offensive lineman the Bengals covet. During his first four years in the league as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Zutah played in 58 games, starting 44 of them. He started 30 of those games at left guard, nine at center and five at right guard. Zuttah was traded to Baltimore in 2015 and made the Pro Bowl after the 2016 season. But, he clearly has some issues. The Ravens traded him to the 49ers, who cut him early on in training camp. The Ravens the signed him back and then cut him again. What’s going on with Zuttah who just made the Pro Bowl last year? There must be some issue...
4. John Greco
Another intriguing possibility is former Cleveland Browns guard John Greco, who was selected by the Rams in third round of 2008 NFL Draft and was traded to Cleveland prior to the 2011 season. Greco finished 2012 as one of the highest-rated guards in the league and also filled in at center for the Browns. He did not miss a snap 2016 before a foot injury ended his season in Week 12. He was cut by the Browns this weekend.
5. Alex Boone
Former Ohio State product and second-team All-American Alex Boone also finds himself out of work. Boone went undrafted in 2009 and eventually signed with the 49ers. By 2012, he had become a starter at right guard and played at near Pro Bowl levels. Boone signed with the Vikings in 2016 and started 14 games at left guard last year.
6. Landon Turner
Landon Turner, at right guard, was a first team All-American selection as a senior in 2016 at the University of North Carolina and won the Jim Parker Trophy as the best collegiate offensive lineman in the nation. However, Turner went undrafted and eventually signed as a free agent with the Saints before being released Saturday.
Which recently-cut NFL players do you think the Bengals should consider, if any?