Clayton Fejedelem showed he belongs in the NFL last season. Starting off the year, he played quite a bit of safety for the Bengals as George Iloka and Shawn Williams dealt with injuries. However, he really performed best on special teams. In fact he was selected as an alternate to the Pro Bowl last season as a special teamer. Will that be enough to secure his spot on the roster?
It should be.
Weight: 205 pounds
Hometown: Lemont, IL
Experience: Third-Year Player
Fejedelem is entering the third season of his rookie deal. He is set to make $630,000 next season, according to Spotrac.com. He only has a a cap hit of around $645,000 in 2018.
Fejedelem is set to hit free agency after the 2019 season.
Fejedelem was a seventh round pick in 2016. His odds of sticking with the team for his first two seasons weren’t great, but here he is, becoming a roster staple. One of the biggest reasons for that was how he committed to special teams, which is something he became very good at. Last season he recorded 15 tackles on special teams. The NFL is making some pretty big changes to kickoffs this season, which includes getting rid of wedge blocking. Fejedelem doesn’t seem concerned by the changes though.
“It’s hard to tell,” Fejedelem told Geoff Hobson of the changes. “You can speculate you might be able to beat other players in space or get a little jump on them. But I couldn’t tell you. A lot of unknowns.”
The Bengals added Jessie Bates III to the safety mix along with a couple of undrafted free agents in Tyrice Beverette and Trayvon Henderson. The reviews of these guys have been fairly positive from minicamp and OTAs, but even so, Fejedelem’s spot seems safe.
If anything Josh Shaw’s spot on the roster is in jeopardy after a very rough 2017 season. The Bengals played Shaw over Fejedelem during the last few weeks of the season when they needed a safety to go in for Williams, but that could be because they know Fejedelem’s value on special teams.
It would be great if Fejedelem could start pushing for a safety spot, but that seems unlikely now with Bates in the mix. Still, injuries happen and Fejedelem did show some flashes of being a pretty good safety when given the chance last year. If he could build upon that it would certainly help the depth in the secondary.
In fact what made Fejedelem a good safety last season also makes him the Bengals’ special teams ace: and that is his sure tackling. He only missed three tackles last season, and that is a pretty valuable attribute to have in the NFL.
Simply said, Fejedelem is likely not going anywhere, and depending on how 2018 goes, the Bengals could make quick work of extending him for years to come to keep a key special teams player in the fold.
Roster odds: 90 percent