The Cincinnati Bengals are in the news today, and not entirely for bad reasons.
It’s mostly negative though.
Not long after the New England Patriots announced they had signed running back Rex Burkhead after his rookie deal with the Bengals ran out, veteran defensive end Carlos Dunlap used Twitter to express what a lot of fans are probably thinking about the club’s offseason so far.
Aside from Burkhead, a career backup who showed late last season after Giovani Bernard was injured he could probably handle a bigger load, the Bengals previously lost tackle Andrew Whitworth (Los Angeles Rams), guard Kevin Zeitler (Cleveland Browns), defensive end Margus Hunt (Indianapolis Colts) and defensive tackle Domata Peko (Denver Broncos) as free agents this month.
Peko is an aging veteran whose role might have been reduced anyway, and Hunt was a disappointing second-round draft pick, but Whitworth and Zeitler were the two best players off an offensive line that was already shaky.
Not long after Dunlap’s tweet, news broke that the replacement for Whitworth or Zeitler might end up being another of their former teammates — Andre Smith.
Smith reportedly has agreed to a one-year deal with the Bengals, who picked him in the first round of the 2009 draft.
The Alabama star never turned into the dominating player they no doubt he hoped they would be, but he was more productive than the current top options they have at tackle have been so far, at least when he healthy (which he isn't often).
Smith, who played four games last season with the Vikings before a season-ending tricep injury, is not as good as Zeitler or even the aging Whitworth, but he is probably going to get paid far less than they got on the open market.
What the team does with that money remains to be seen, of course.
So, too, does how much they miss Burkhead.
He is the type of Swiss Army Knife player Pats coach Bill Belichick loves, and he might have been underutilized in Cincinnati.
Burkhead leaves the Bengals with a backfield consisting of the the rehabbing Bernard, a veteran coming off a disappointing year (Jeremy Hill) and a youngster (Tra Carson) who did not play in a game last season as a rookie free agent signing.
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