Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor doesn’t say much of substance nowadays. At the tail end of what will likely be his second two-win season in two years, the 37-year old is just trying to stay employed for as long as he can.
Taylor did tell reporters this week that cornerback Trae Waynes—who has been on the Reserve/Injured list all season—will stay on I.R. for the remainder of the season. This was heavily speculated over the past month, but it officially means that Waynes will miss his entire first year in Cincinnati.
Waynes was only one of eight unrestricted free agents the Bengals signed off of the open market this past offseason, and he’s far from the only one to have missed an ample amount of playing time this season.
The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. ran the numbers for us and found that Waynes and the five other free agents that were projected to start this season have only played in 45 games. If all six of them played in every single game up to this point, they would have 78 games played combined.
D.J. Reader ($14M): 5 games— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) December 17, 2020
Trae Waynes ($14M): 0
Vonn Bell ($6M): All 13
Mackensie Alexander ($4M): 11
Xavier Su’a-Filo ($3M): 3
Josh Bynes ($1.7M): All 13
That’s 45 out of 96 potential games (47 percent).
Obviously, the Reader-Waynes combo makes it worse than the number. https://t.co/7XmTIHokM0
Dehner Jr. didn’t include Mike Thomas or LeShaun Sims, since they were signed to be reserve players, but they’ve combined for 21 games played this year. That makes it 66 out of a combined 104 possible games played for the entire free agent class.
Waynes and D.J. Reader became the most notable losses for the team. The two combined for a $20,062,500 salary cap hit this year after inking the two largest free agent contracts in franchise history. They never saw Waynes play, and Reader couldn’t make it out of Week 5. Xavier Su’a-Filo was a more inexpensive signing, but his absence for the majority of the season at right guard left an equally—if not more—damaging hole in comparison to Waynes and Reader.
The defense has sorely missed those two, but they’ve at least gotten to see Vonn Bell and Josh Bynes for what they are. Mackensie Alexander has dealt with a few injuries this year but will still end up playing nearly the entire season.
This may seem like more coal fueling the “excuse caboose” as Dehner Jr. likes to call it, but it’s merely a sorrowing fact to help further encapsulate this year. It also shouldn’t have any impact on whether or not the team decides to spend in free agency this upcoming offseason. There is money to be spent for sure.