The Cincinnati Bengals’ linebacking corps is finally coming together.
Logan Wilson was recently praised by defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo.
Germaine Pratt continues to add to his game, and will contribute as a rangy linebacker in zone coverage.
And Akeem Davis-Gaither might be the best athlete among them. He should be featured more heavily in nickel downs.
Still, the team needs a fourth guy to emerge. And that could be second-year linebacker Markus Bailey.
Bailey lasted until the seventh round of the 2020 Draft due to injury concerns. With those seemingly behind him (for now), he could see far more snaps this season.
We talk about how the linebackers are shaping up in the video below:
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Hometown: Hillard, OH
Experience: two years
Bailey is in the second year of a 4 year, $3,408,696 rookie deal that will pay him $780,000 in base salary this year.
Just two games into his true freshman year with the Boilermakers, Bailey suffered an ACL injury. He returned in 2016 as a redshirt freshman and demonstrated his ability with 97 tackles and 4 interceptions. He then had strong sophomore and junior years, totaling 204 tackles, 13.5 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles. But his senior year was cut short by another knee injury in just his second game.
By the time of the 2020 Draft, it was clear that Bailey was gifted. It just wasn’t clear if he could hold up in the NFL. That’s why he lasted until the seventh round, where the Bengals nabbed him with the 215th overall pick. We actually interviewed him shortly after he came to Cincinnati.
Bailey didn’t see the field much his rookie year, appearing in 11 games and contributing one sack and a pass defended. But that was expected considering he was coming off injury. Also, the team was exploring its options with so many young linebackers.
Outlook for 2021
Bailey is still behind Pratt and Wilson on the depth chart, and he is probably behind Davis-Gaither in terms of snaps as well. But he does have the edge over Jordan Evans and recent additions Joe Bachie and Keandre Jones. If Bailey gets to see the field, he will make an impact. That’s because he’s a hard-worker who puts in the time to improve his technique. Expect Bailey to see far more than 40 snaps, the amount he had last year.
85%. Bailey is still on a rookie deal and he did nothing to disappoint fans or coaches last year. He simply didn’t see the field enough. On opening day, he will be two years removed from his knee injury, so it is likely that the defensive coaches will be a little less cautious with him now. The only reason Bailey wouldn’t make the roster is if he were to suffer another knee injury and earn the label of “injury-prone,” though that seems like a distant possibility at this point.