It was clear that the Bengals linebacking corps was not just the worst position on the team in 2018, but one of the worst positional groups in the entire NFL.
This offseason the team re-signed middle linebacker Preston Brown following an injury plagued season in 2018. Brown was known for his ability to stay healthy during his tenure with the Buffalo Bills, as well as his solid tackling ability that made him one of the more reliable linebackers in the league. Unfortunately, Brown only played in seven games last season and was placed on IR in mid-November. He will look to return back to the player he was with Buffalo for his first four NFL seasons.
The organization also utilized the NFL draft to upgrade the position by drafting North Carolina State linebacker Germaine Pratt. Pratt was one of the most efficient college linebacker’s, posting 104 tackles and 6 sacks in his senior year with the Wolfpack. This was a much needed move for the team after releasing Vontaze Burfict in March.
The other starting linebacker who is also coming off an injury plagued 2018 season is Nick Vigil. While Vigil isn’t the most explosive linebacker on the team, he has proved to be a solid tackler when he stays healthy. The bigger problem for the team is behind these three linebackers there is minimal depth, making it very nerve racking if any of the starters come out of the game due to injury.
Third year linebacker Jordan Evans has gotten significant playing time in his first few seasons in the league, but has consistently been slow to the ball and often looks confused when diagnosing the play. His 45 solo tackles tied for 59th at the position, finishing the season with a 51.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF) for the 2018 season.
The organization also released 2018 third-round pick Malik Jefferson and rookie Deshaun Davis on Saturday. This means that they may be looking forward to them acquiring another linebacker who has been cut and/or requested a trade recently.
Unfortunately, the free agent linebackers aren’t necessarily starting caliber, and the guys who were requesting a trade have already received their wish.
One of those guys who some fans seemed to be excited about the team making a move for was Kiko Alonso. However, Alonso was shipped to the New Orleans Saints from the tanking Miami Dolphins in exchange for linebacker Vince Biegel.
A guy that the Bengals already met with this summer who was recently released from the Oakland Raiders is Brandon Marshall. Marshall will turn 30 in less than two weeks which would make him the oldest linebacker on the Bengals if he were to sign with them.The problem is Marshall sat out of Raiders preseason finale due to a knee injury, making him a questionable signing due to the need for guys who make an immediate impact.
Other smaller names like B.J Goodson, who played for now Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo on the Giants, was thought to be someone that Anarumo might be intrigued to sign due to the familiarity and youth. Just as Bengals fans seemed to point out that the fit might work with Goodson and Anarumo back together, Goodson was shipped off to Green Bay.
It seems now that unless the Bengals are willing to make a big trade there will be no change in the linebacking corps before they travel to Seattle. There are currently only the four linebackers mentioned above signed onto the active roster at the moment, but it is a “New Dey”, so hopefully Mike Brown will open up to doing what is best for the team and making a big move in free agency to help this team make it back to the playoffs.