The Bengals signed Bobby Hart to their offseason roster in hopes of bolstering a thin offensive line.
Hart is a 23-year old offensive tackle who is a former seventh-round pick of the New York Giants. He had a number of issues prior to his release from the Giants this offseason. Hart reportedly quit on the team by saying he wouldn’t play in the final week of the season, he dealt with a nagging injury, and he just wasn’t very good to begin with.
So why did the Bengals bring on Hart?
Well it appears that may have been Hart and his representatives being opportunistic, according to Geoff Hobson of the Bengals official site.
Knowing the Bengals are looking for help at tackle, Hart’s reps reached out to Lewis. During Lewis’ 16-season tenure with the Bengals he’s presided over the revival of several stalled careers that benefited from a change of scenery. The most well-known is cornerback Adam Jones, but other names on that list include safeties Reggie Nelson and Chris Crocker, running back Cedric Benson, and most recently defensive lineman Chris Smith.
It seems unusual, but it makes sense for Hart. He needs a chance to go somewhere and prove he is better than what he showed in New York. There probably isn’t a better situation to go to as a tackle who needs to prove something than the Bengals right now.
Cincinnati has a clear need at the position with Cedric Ogbuehi being as bad as he could be and the status of Jake Fisher is still up in the air with his serious heart issue. If Hart plays well he doesn’t have too many people to climb in front of for serious playing time, not to mention the Bengals brought in Frank Pollack from Dallas to coach the offensive line, and he is viewed as one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL.
Hart also wants to prove all his critics wrong, and play for a coach who believes in him.
“It’s frustrating seeing all those things about you that you know are not true,” Hart told Hobson. “The main thing I took from (Lewis) is he’s not just blowing smoke. You can just feel the genuine aspect coming from him. When you get labelled those things, you kind of start to develop a wall, a shield where you block people out and don’t let people in. But when you talk to him and you feel how genuine he is, that wall just comes down. You just listen to him and you can feel he cares.”
This is a nice low-risk move that the Bengals need to make more of. Sure, Hart may struggle his way to not even making the final 53-man roster, but there is a chance that a change of scenery and having a chip on his shoulder could lead to him being a nice addition.
Hopefully, Hart proves everyone wrong, and the Bengals have one less spot along the offensive line to worry about.