Trust me when I say this: I'm not a fan of Jermaine Gresham returning to Cincinnati. There is an abundance of obvious talent there, but his maturity level hasn't developed much. He overreacts to irrelevant opinions (even uninformed ones) and his seriousness to develop into a better player has never appeared to be a prominent goal; we're not saying that the goal isn't there, but it's not translating onto the field.
While his number of drops has actually improved, his propensity to fumble and commit penalties hasn't. You don't have to be a genius-level analyst to understand that most of this is mental; don't separate the ball from your body while fighting for yards with a pack of vultures (defenders) swarming; listen to the snap count and if you're not sure, watch the ball (like a receiver).
During the NFL Owners Meeting this week, head coach Marvin Lewis spoke with reporters during the AFC Coaches Breakfast Monday morning. While he didn't rule out Gresham's eventual return, Lewis articulated that his maturity level is something they're always facing:
"He's a man of many, many, many, many, many, many, many moods," said Lewis. "But one he's consistent with is 'I'm loyal to you, coach.' We'll see what happens." Door open.
Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has said that "there is a place for him" in Cincinnati. Door still open.
One Cincinnati Enquirer report said that "some Bengals coaches" want nothing to do with him -- those names, and the actual number of coaches that believe this, remains unknown nearly three months after the report was issued. Don't view Gresham's return as simply a player returning to a home loaded with tension -- tight end isn't particularly rich in the draft and there should be concern about Tyler Eifert's durability.
That said, Gresham is expected to be ready for training camp (wherever that is) after surgery to repair a herniated disc. It was an ailment discovered by the Oakland Raiders, who hosted Gresham forever-ago for several days. The Raiders, who have signed every other free agent who visited Oakland, haven't signed Gresham for obvious reasons but are also leaving that door open.
"He’s still on my board," Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie told CSN Bay Area at the NFL owners meetings. "We’ll see how he feels and how he rehabs and all that. Going forward, it will be more about how he wants to navigate through this."