Tobin’s take: 6 things to know about the state of the Bengals

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Tobin bullish on Bengals future

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Cincinnati Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin said Wednesday at the NFL Combine the team is not actively shopping backup quarterback AJ McCarron, but that doesn’t mean he won’t listen to offers.

“The phones in our office work,” Tobin said. “The larger point on AJ for us is he is a very valuable piece of what we do. So it’s not a point where we’re saying ‘What can we do with this guy because we don’t have a plan in place for him with us.’ There is a plan in place.

“He plays a very valuable position, backup quarterback, and you’re always one play away from going to your backup quarterback,’ Tobin added.

Reports surfaced Wednesday that the New England Patriots are not planning on trading their backup quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, a decision that would seem to boost McCarron’s trade value.

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The question is whether other teams view that value the same as the Bengals.

“We’re in the business of AJ McCarron, and there’s going to have to be something pretty valuable for us to be out of that business,” Tobin said.

McCarron’s rookie contract expires after the 2017 season, but there is some debate whether his rookie year, spent mostly on the Non-Football Injury list, counts as an accrued NFL season.

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BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 27: Quarterback AJ McCarron #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals warms up prior to a game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 27: Quarterback AJ McCarron #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals warms up prior to a game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 27: Quarterback AJ McCarron #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals warms up prior to a game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

If it does, as McCarron contends, he will be an unrestricted free agent next March. If it doesn’t, as the Bengals believe, he will be a restricted free agent, which means the Bengals can match any offer from another team. The case likely will be decided by an arbiter.

“We do know we have him for another year and that’s valuable and if there’s a second year hopefully we come to an agreement to have him here longer,” Tobin said. “We want to be respectful of his situation, and ultimately it will be decided by someone other than AJ and someone other than the Cincinnati Bengals as to what’s correct and what’s not.”

Here are five other things Tobin touched on during his 45 minutes with reporters:

Patience with Pacman

Adam Jones remains a member of the Cincinnati Bengals following his Jan. 3 arrest, but Tobin said he cannot predict whether that will continue to be the case.

“I’m not going to condemn him, and I’m not going to condone what he did,” Tobin said. “Whether there was anything criminal there or not is to be determined by our criminal justice system, and we’re going to let that work. And if there’s an NFL penalty, that will be determined by the NFL and we’re going to let that work. We’re not going to make any rash, harsh, fast decisions about the future of our football team without all the information.”

RELATED: Latest incident should be Jones’ last for Bengals

Jones’ attorney said he is getting treatment for alcohol and anger issues in the Cincinnati area following the incident in which he allegedly assaulted a security guard and jail nurse and told the arresting officer “I hope you die tomorrow.”

“It was disappointing for us to see him display what he displayed,” Tobin said. “It’s not indicative of who he is, in our opinion. I think Adam is better than that. His status on our team is like a lot of players’ status on our team. He’s got to earn his way like everyone else does. Where this goes, I cannot predict it. But we certainly are not going to make a decision on him without more information than what we have.”

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HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 24: Adam Jones #24 of the Cincinnati Bengals walks on the field before the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 24: Adam Jones #24 of the Cincinnati Bengals walks on the field before the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

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HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 24: Adam Jones #24 of the Cincinnati Bengals walks on the field before the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Wanting Whit

Tobin said he expects free agent left tackle Andrew Whitworth to test the market but remains hopeful the Bengals can re-sign the three-time Pro Bowler.

“I always anticipate people testing free agency when they get to this point,” Tobin said. “That’s human nature. I think a lot of times that kind of sets a little bit more definitive market. I’m a Whitworth guy. He makes everyone in the personnel world and the coaching world proud that they were associated with bringing him in. And he’s still up to it in our opinion.”

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The Bengals drafted Whitworth in the second round in 2006, and he’s started 164 of the 168 games he’s played since. The team drafted tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher with their first two picks in 2015, but both have struggled with production and injuries since, leaving questions whether either is ready to take over at left tackle in 2017.

“The way I view Whit, he encompasses everything you want when you pull a guy off a draft board from a scouting perspective,” Tobin said. “When you pull the name off the draft board and turn the card in, you want him to be Andrew Whitworth 10 years from now. Same team, multiple contracts, starter, Pro Bowl player, leader of everybody. Would I be upset if Whit came back? Hell no.”

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BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 10: Tackle Andrew Whitworth #77 of the Cincinnati Bengals blocks outside linebacker Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 10, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 10: Tackle Andrew Whitworth #77 of the Cincinnati Bengals blocks outside linebacker Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 10, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 10: Tackle Andrew Whitworth #77 of the Cincinnati Bengals blocks outside linebacker Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 10, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Kicking competition

Even after signing Jonathan Brown on Jan. 20 and re-signing free agent Randy Bullock on Jan. 26, the Bengals are not done adding kickers as they prepare to stage a wide-open audition for the 2017 season.

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“We’re always going to be open at taking a look at another one until somebody proves they’re the guy, and we’re not in that situation right now,” Tobin said. “During the draft, after the draft, maybe a couple of them. Maybe a couple in rookie mini camp. We’re going to look at kickers. We’re going to be trying to find the next Justin Tucker.”

The Bengals stuck with veteran kicker Mike Nugent through a series of missed extra points and field goals last year before replacing him with Bullock on Dec. 13. In four games with the Bengals, Bullock was 6 of 6 on extra points and 5 of 6 on field goals. But the lone miss was a 43-yard potential game-winner on the final play of a 12-10 loss in Houston.

“We’re going to look. A lot,” Tobin said. “And somebody is going to have to raise their hand and say it’s me by making kicks, making big kicks, making preseason kicks. We don’t want too many, because it’s hard to work too many. But we want to have enough views of enough guys to where we go to camp with the ones we feel have a real chance.”

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HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 24: Randy Bullock #4 of the Cincinnati Bengals attempts a 33 yard field goal against the Houston Texans in the second quarter at NRG Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 24: Randy Bullock #4 of the Cincinnati Bengals attempts a 33 yard field goal against the Houston Texans in the second quarter at NRG Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

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HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 24: Randy Bullock #4 of the Cincinnati Bengals attempts a 33 yard field goal against the Houston Texans in the second quarter at NRG Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Compensatory complaint

The NFL awarded the Bengals four compensatory picks last week, but Tobin was hoping they would be higher than the fourth-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-round selections they received for losing free agents Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Reggie Nelson and Andre Smith.

The picks in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds will be the first of the comp selections, which shows how close the Bengals were to having those be third, fourth and sixth rounders.

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“Was it disappointing? Yeah,” Tobin said. “But that seems to have disappointed us a little bit every year. One thing unique and odd about the compensatory system is this is the first year I can remember the whole system being turned upside down. It used to be there were three third-round picks and 11 seventh-round picks. Now you have 11 third-round picks and three seventh-round picks.

“So, it’s a little bit discouraging,” he continued. “If you really start to think about it, it really devalues your fourth-round pick when you throw 11 picks on the end of the third round.”

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Cincinnati Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin speaks at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday. JAY MORRISON / STAFF

Cincinnati Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin speaks at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday. JAY MORRISON / STAFF

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Cincinnati Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin speaks at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday. JAY MORRISON / STAFF

Green good to go

Tobin confirmed that Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green is 100 percent healed from the hamstring injury that cost him the final six games of 2016.

“He was not cleared for the Pro Bowl, but we brought him back in recently, and we’ve been told he’s 100 percent clear now and ready to go,” Tobin said.

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