Although the Bengals’ roster was cut down to 53 players on Saturday, it is by no means set. Some players may be sent to Injured/Reserve, while others will be cut to make room for players add through waiver claims and free agent acquisitions.
Here are a few changes that could be coming before the Bengals take on the Colts on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET
1. Cody Core has been dealing with a back injury and could potentially be put on Injured/Reserve to start the year. Bengals fans everywhere breathed a sigh of relief when the team decided to keep Auden Tate. This means they have seven receivers on the roster and would still be in good position if they put Core on IR. It seems likely this happens pretty soon.
2. Davontae Harris is one of six corners who made the “final” roster. If the Bengals placed him on IR, they would still have William Jackson, Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, Tony McRae and Darius Phillips. He’s been dealing with a knee injury. It’s also probable the Bengals sign another cornerback, whether that’s bringing back KeiVarae Russell, who was cut on Saturday, or bringing in a new player.
3. Ryan Hewitt, Michael Johnson, and T.J. Johnson all have enough tenure that the Bengals could bring them back as free agents without them having to clear waivers. These returns seem unlikely to occur in the immediate future, but Marvin Lewis didn’t close the door on re-signing the veterans who were cut on Saturday. Hewitt’s departure was due to a lack of use in the new offensive philosophy more than his performance, so it’s unlikely he’ll return. Michael Johnson’s departure signals a confidence in the development of Carl Lawson, Jordan Willis, and Sam Hubbard. Johnson could reunite with former Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther in Oakland as the Raiders may be desperate for pass rush help with the departure of Khalil Mack. Feeling good about rookie Billy Price and knowing that Trey Hopkins can fill in at center if needed allowed the Bengals to move on from T.J. Johnson, so he is also unlikely to come back in the immediate future, but could be someone whose number they keep handy in case of emergency.
4. Are the Bengals feeling good at quarterback with Jeff Driskel backing up Andy Dalton? It’s possible they look to the waiver wire or free agent market to sign another backup quarterback or even replace Driskel. The Steelers waived Landry Jones on Saturday, so he could be someone the Bengals turn to. Some other recently-cut options include Jake Rudock, rookie draft pick Tanner Lee, Bryce Petty, Tom Savage and EJ Manuel.
Whether the Bengals place Core and/or Harris on IR — or make any of these other moves — the team is surely looking over the waiver wire and considering how to improve the roster before Week 1.