The departure of C.J. Uzomah threw a wrench in the Cincinnati Bengals’ free agency plans.
It was expected that Uzomah would re-sign for a third contract in Cincinnati this week, but the 29-year-old tight end took a three-year, $24 million deal to play for the New York Jets.
If the team was planning on using cash and cap room to retain one of the core leaders and offensive starters, then it’s likely that they’ll look for another veteran on the free agent market as an alternative.
That’s at least what Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com alluded to in a recent article:
When it comes to tight ends, think younger than Uzomah (29), not older. Think a second contract. They’ll want a guy that can catch and get down field while leaving the blocking to Drew Sample.
Sample is the only tight end on the current roster with notable playing experience. Mitchell Wilcox, a special-teamer, Scotty Washington, and Thaddeus Moss fill out the remainder of the depth chart.
Not only does Sample have one year left on his rookie contract, he’s not the vertical threat that Uzomah could be in spades. It’s a missing piece of the equation that Hobson says the team is looking for.
Age seems to be a factor here, and that limits the possible options to a few notable names. O.J. Howard, Gerald Everett, Tyler Conklin, and Robert Tunyan all remain available and fit the athleticism and youth prerequisites that seem to exist in finding Uzomah’s immediate replacement.
Hobson also mentioned the team is looking at cornerbacks, defensive and offensive linemen as free agency progresses.
How do you want the Bengals to address the tight end position after the loss of Uzomah? Let us know in the comments!