Just a month ago, Malone was a first-string receiver for the majority of Bengals training camp after A.J. Green injured his ankle during the first practice. Not only that, he was also getting major looks as a kickoff returner.
A quiet preseason coupled with the emergence of undrafted free agent Damion Willis saw Malone fall towards the lower end of the depth chart. By late August, he became a dark horse candidate to be cut.
As it turns out, Malone made the Bengals’ initial 53-man roster, beating out fellow veteran Cody Core for the seventh and final spot at receiver. Malone’s job was not safe for long though, as the team quickly acquired Pharoh Cooper off of waivers. Malone was subsequently released to make room for Cooper.
Malone was let go along with linebacker Hardy Nickerson, but the Bengals only had one practice squad spot remaining after signing offensive lineman Wyatt Miller. Nickerson was signed back on, leaving Malone for the other 31 teams. Fortunately for him, the Jets came calling.
A fourth-round draft pick back in 2017, Malone was characterized as a speedy receiver with great size, but never quite grasped the subtle nuances of route running and creating separation. He accumulated just 75 yards, seven catches and one touchdown in 20 games played.