The Cincinnati Bengals only made two outside acquisitions at the linebacker position in free agency and waivers, but triple-dipped at the position in the draft. On this week’s Orange and Black Insider, we are fortunate enough to speak to one of those three rookies!
Purdue linebacker Markus Bailey joined John and Anthony to chat about his fit in the Lou Anarumo system, an update on his health and what skills he can bring to immediately help the defense. Bailey joined us courtesy of Caric Sports Agency.
As many probably know by now, Bailey has had to endure two major knee injuries. Had he not suffered those, it’s quite possible he’d have been a Friday night selection by a team.
While grateful for being drafted by the Bengals, we asked him about the possibility of a chip being on his shoulder because of the disproportionate draft selection to his talent. To no surprise, the former Boilermakers team captain didn’t disappoint.
“My take on it is you can be grateful, but not complacent,” Bailey told us. “I didn’t really celebrate it (being drafted in the seventh round). I was happy in the moment, the hours after that, that day. I was obviously very happy—it’s a great opportunity.”
“I was grateful—it’s an amazing opportunity, but I have confidence in my ability, like you said,” Bailey continued. “I’m going to get myself ready to contribute as much as I can this year. So, it’s not that I needed an extra chip on my shoulder, be externally motivated or anything like that. I know my ability, so all I can do at this point is be grateful for the opportunity and make the most of it.”
Bailey also relayed a couple of interesting and humorous scenarios that played out on draft weekend. Prior to the Bengals phoning to inform him they would be selecting him, a couple of other teams came calling.
“The first call I got was actually not from the Bengals,” Bailey relayed to us. “It was the middle of the sixth round and it was a North Carolina number. So, I was like, ‘Oh, the Panthers—let’s go!’.
“So, I pick up the phone and it was one of the coaches from the Kansas City Chiefs,” Bailey continued. “He was like ‘Hey, Marcus, how are you doing?’, and my mom’s like ‘This is the call right here—we’re going to the Chiefs’. Then, he said, ‘This is probably not the call you’re looking for...’. They just kind of wanted to be the first one and get ahead on free agency.”
The Super Bowl champs weren’t the only ones with that idea, though. The odd offseason rivalry between the Dolphins and the Bengals struck another chord a couple of weeks ago with Bailey.
“And then the same thing happened—a Miami number called me,” Bailey recalled. “It was one of the coaches from the Dolphins; they were pretty much saying the same thing. And, as that call was going on, I saw that the Bengals were about to start the seventh round and I get a call from Cincinnati while I’m on the phone with the Dolphins and I just hung up (on Miami). I was like ‘Third time’s the charm—I have to get drafted by the Bengals here.’”
Ultimately, that call from Cincinnati was from head coach Zac Taylor to inform Bailey of their upcoming selection of him. Bailey referred to it as “validation” to the hard work he’s put in over the years.
Also part of the conversation with Bailey:
- Where he thinks he can contribute for the Bengals early in his career.
- The value the Bengals’ staff placed on high character traits—namely Bailey’s All-Academic and All-Conference play, combined with his Purdue team captain designation.
- Markus also recounts his huge 2018 performance against the Ohio State Buckeyes, a team he grew up idolizing as a kid playing football in a suburb of Columbus.
- Some tidbits of pre-draft meetings with linebackers coach Al Golden and defensive assistant, Mark Duffner.
The OBI crew also talked about some recent news with offensive skill position players. Andy Dalton was released and signed with the Cowboys, while John Ross’ fifth-year option was declined by the club.
We also began our “9 for 9” positional preview series. Because of Mr. Bailey joining the program, John and Anthony start with the linebacker group.
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