From 1999-2013, Octavio Dotel set a record in Major League Baseball by playing for 13 major league teams.
That’s a whole lot of uniform changes, and Dotal essentially pitched for a new team every single year, for more than a dozen seasons. Recently, pitcher Edwin Jackson was added to A’s roster and is set to pitch for what would be his 13th team, tying Dotel’s major league record.
This got me thinking about the Bengals’ roster. Who is the Bengals’ most traveled player? Which member of the Bengals roster has played in an NFL game for the most NFL teams?
Given the nature of the NFL and MLB, it would be very unlikely to find a member of the Bengals who had played for 13 teams. First off, the average NFL career is much shorter (3.3 years) compared to a baseball career (5.6 years).
Second, mid-season trades are much less frequent in football, thus allowing players to rack up the opportunity to play for multiple teams in the same year. Also, most players are very likely to spend the first three to five years with the team who originally signed him, playing out their rookie contracts, further limiting the chances they will bounce around the league frequently.
Other factors that increase the level of players bouncing around in baseball are the lack of a salary cap. In the NFL a team is more financially capable of keeping their better players.
So we aren’t going to find any Bengals playing for 13 teams, but who from the 2017 squad leads the Bengals, and how many teams has he played for?
Adam Jones (3):
Jones has played for three teams since entering the NFL way back in 2005. That tied him for the fourth-most on the Bengals’ roster until he was let go this offseason. If you notice the gaps from 2005 through 2017 for Jones, it’s because he missed the entirety of the 2007 season due to league suspension, then wasn’t signed by a team in 2009.
Brandon LaFell (3):
In eight seasons, LaFell has played for three NFL teams. That number doesn’t look likely to change this season, although if Tyler Boyd and John Ross can step up their play this season, LaFell could be joining a fourth team next year.
Eric Winston (4):
Like Jones, Winston is now a free agent, but he was the second most traveled Bengal by playing for a total of four teams in his NFL career. He was not brought back by the Bengals, who are desperate for a right tackle, and it’s unlikely he will manage to make an active roster for anybody else in 2018, ending his career with four teams.
Randy Bullock (5):
Bullock is the big “winner” as the Bengals player who has suited up for the most NFL teams, with five. I suppose that’s good and bad. It’s good that five teams wanted his services, but bad that four of them quickly decided they no longer wanted his services.
After a rookie season spent on the Texans’ injured reserve list, Bullock played a pair of full seasons for them. In 2015, he only played three games with the Texans before they moved on, and he found a home with the Jets for eight games.
The Jets did not keep him around, so in 2016, he played one game for the Giants and one game for the Steelers before latching on for three more games with the Bengals. Following the Bengals’ infamous decision to keep him over Jake Elliott (who went on to win a Super Bowl), Bullock had a rare opportunity to play a full season with one team last year.
And with the Bengals’ decision to not draft a kicker, or ever sign one after the draft, Bullock has a solid chance to remain on the Bengals’ roster for yet one more season. He may have to wait until after the 2018 season before adding to his list of NFL teams.
Looking at the Bengals’ current roster, backup quarterback Matt Barkley has played for two teams, and that could increase to three, if he manages to make the Bengals’ 53-man roster and play in a game for the team this year.