The linebacker unit has been a liability for the Bengals in recent years. Going in to his second year, Zac Taylor has nearly turned the entire unit over and phased out most of Marvin Lewis’ former players.
In the offseason, it was clear that the Bengals needed to add more talent to the room. It took most of the first week, but the Bengals finally signed Josh Bynes.
Bynes had finished his second stint with the Ravens, and was brought in to provide stability in the young group. Without Bynes, the average age of Bengals linebackers is 24 and the average experience is one year. Not only is he a proven NFL starter, which the Bengals desperately need, but he has been as strong leader over a young group this offseason.
Hometown: Lauderdale Lakes, FL
Experience: 10 years
Bynes has an unusual veteran contract that did not include a signing bonus. His entire contract only includes a base salary, a roster bonus, and per-game active bonuses, according to Spotrac. This means that his dead cap is zero, and the Bengals would lose nothing if they cut him.
Bynes came out of Auburn in 2011, and signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent. He served on the practice squad his first year, but started playing special teams for the Ravens in 2012.
Bynes was a spot-starter and special teams player until 2015 when he was with the Lions. That year he had 82 combined tackles, five passes defended, and half a sack.
He would only be a full-time starter one more time in his career, which was in 2018 with the Cardinals. That year, he had 75 combined tackles, two sacks, and five tackles for a loss.
The Ravens brought him back in 2019 to be a backup and spot-starter, where he played 40 percent of the teams’ snaps on defense.
The Bengals signed him in 2020 to be the veteran in a room full of young players. A few months later Cincinnati drafted three rookie linebackers and signed one college free agent linebacker.
Aside from Germaine Pratt and Jordan Evans, Bynes is the only linebacker in the room with starting experience. He has far more experience than all of the other Bengals’ linebackers combined, which just can’t be understated in a season as unusual as this.
Bynes has already taken over the linebacker’s group, given the disparity of experience.
While Bynes only has never started all 16 games over his nine years in the NFL. The Bengals didn’t bring him in to be a full-time player.
That being said, he still has a role. He will be important, and should still get at least 40 percent of the defense’s snaps.
The Bengals are going to want to get Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither, and Markus Bailey some playing time. Bynes will take some of their snaps to ease them into NFL. But as the season goes on, the snap count will favor the young players more and more each week.
His contract makes him easy to cut, since he has no dead cap. But the Bengals can’t replace his leadership, so that makes his job feel secure.
Roster Odds: 80%