Earlier this week, the Bengals hosted a group of free agent running backs for workouts.
Among them were Thomas Rawls, Matt Dayes, Fitzgerald Toussaint and Troymaine Pope. Initially, it looked like the Bengals were doing their due diligence on the best backs available with Joe Mixon out following knee surgery.
But we learned that wasn’t the case on Wednesday, as the team announced that Tra Carson had been waived due to an injury suffered in practice on Monday. That led to the Bengals replacing him with Rawls, who may very well be thrust into a significant workload soon enough.
Part of that is due to the Bengals favoring veterans over rookies and right now, fourth-rounder Mark Walton is the only other back after Giovani Bernard, who was limited Wednesday with a knee injury.
That means whoever the Bengals ultimately signed could be the backup for the next 1-3 games, depending on how long Mixon is out.
Was Rawls the right man to choose?
There’s no question his upside is the highest of the backs Cincinnati worked out, but his floor is also very low due to his injury-prone nature. Early in his career with the Seahawks, Rawls looked like a rising start.
But then, injuries began to ruin this once promising career. It started with a broken ankle in 2015. Then a series of more minor injuries led to him appearing in just 21 games over the next two seasons before Seattle didn’t tender him as a restricted free agent this offseason, allowing him to sign with the Jets.
But Rawls failed to make the Jets’ 53-man roster, and he was on the street for the first two weeks of the regular season before Cincinnati signed him.
Looking at the other options, Troymaine Pope didn’t look like a realistic candidate. The former Texans reserve appeared in four games from 2016-17 and has just 12 career carries.
Matt Dayes was an intriguing option, as the seventh-round rookie out of NC State showed some promise in Cleveland, but their backfield was too deep for him to make the final roster.
Then there’s Fitzgerald Toussaint, who has been backing up Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell in recent years. But when Toussaint has gotten carries, he’s done well with them, including 118 total yards against the Bengals in that dreaded Wild Card loss to Pittsburgh.
So, did the Bengals get it right signing Rawls to be their backup for now?
Was Thomas Rawls the right RB for the Bengals to sign?
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