The Bengals have announced two additions and two subtractions from their 53-man roster.
On Sunday, the team claimed wide receiver Pharoh Cooper off waivers from the Cardinals and running back Samaje Perine off waivers from Washington.
To make room for those two, the Bengals waived wide receiver Josh Malone and linebacker Hardy Nickerson.
Letting Nickerson go was an easy call, as he simply isn’t good enough to play linebacker in the NFL, even for a Bengals defense that now has just four linebackers on the 53-man roster.
Nickerson joined the Bengals in 2017 as an undrafted free agent. His ties to Marvin Lewis, who was the head coach at the time, were obvious as Nickerson’s father, Hardy Nickerson Sr., was coached by Lewis when both spent time in Pittsburgh during the 90’s. You can imagine the connection made getting Nickerson to join Cincinnati was an easy one.
During his time with the Bengals, Nickerson was often dropped down to the practice squad and activated to the 53-man roster pretty frequently. He did end up starting two games in 2017 and seven games in 2018.
He never really looked the part of a reliable inside linebacker. He was often burned in the passing game. He actually had started two games early in 2018 while Burfict was suspended, and then when Lewis took over as the defensive coordinator he was named the starter again for a single game. Then he started the final four games, but at that point injuries forced Cincinnati’s hand.
Nickerson’s career stats with the Bengals includes 71 combined tackles, a tackle for a loss, two passes defended and a forced fumble. The Bengals are now left with linebackers Nick Vigil, Preston Brown, Germaine Pratt and Jordan Evans.
While this was no real surprise, cutting Malone for Cooper was a surprising move. Cooper hasn’t done anything to suggest he’s a better player than Malone. However, Cooper is a solid returner on special teams, so the Bengals must have wanted another returner man on their 53-man roster.
Zac Taylor also spent two seasons with Cooper during their time with the Rams. If there’s anything that Taylor has taught us in Year 1, it’s that he greatly values familiarity.
As for the new guys, Cooper (5-11, 207), is a fourth-year player out of University of South Carolina who was originally was a fourth-round draft pick of the Rams in 2016. He spent the majority of his first three NFL seasons with the Rams before ending last season with the Cardinals. He has played in 33 career games (four starts), and has 25 catches for 190 yards. He was waived by the Cardinals yesterday.
Perine (5-11, 240), is a third-year player from the University of Oklahoma. In 21 career games (eight starts) for Washington, he rushed for 635 yards and a TD on 183 carries, and he caught 25 passes for 187 yards and another score. He also was waived yesterday.