The Cincinnati Bengals recently cleared the way to reach the 53-man player limit on their roster. Some expected and obvious cuts were made, then some questionable ones were. Here is a breakdown of the roster and what moves were smart and what moves were not.
The Bengals’ biggest question revolved around the offensive line and their moves to find the best possible players. They traded Billy Price to the New York Giants in exchange for defensive lineman B.J. Hill and a conditional 7th round pick. They also ended up releasing Michael Jordan, who was claimed by the Carolina Panthers shortly after. This one was one of the more shocking moves. Not that it was a bad move or anything; it just didn’t seem expected because Jordan started at guard the first two preseason games and was often taking 1st team reps in training camp. But in Week 3, after seeing him not play with the starters or even the 2nd unit, it raised a few red flags, which eventually led to his release. Rookies Jackson Carman, D’Ante Smith, and Trey Hill all made the roster.
The next position that was an exciting race was the running backs. The Bengals started camp considering multiple backs to take the reigns behind Joe Mixon. Samaje Perine, Chris Evans, Jacques Patrick, Trayveon Williams, and Pooka Williams all got their opportunity to show why they deserved to be on the roster. With Perine’s ability to play special teams along with playing well last season when called upon, he was locked into one of the three roster spots. The 3rd and final spot was eventually a race between Evans and Patrick. Still, with Evans looking excellent in Week 3 and honestly all of the preseason, it created enough separation to make it a no-brainer. Patrick and Trayveon Williams later got added to the practice squad.
The tight ends were a growing conversation as well. It was mainly knowing whether Thaddeus Moss would make the roster or not. Moss showed glimpses of skill with his ability to use his size and strength to catch passes and create separation, but he lacked blocking ability. The Bengals are in a position where blocking will be essential; it is hard putting him over a tight end that can bring that to the table. C.J. Uzomah and Drew Sample had roster spots locked up, so it came down to Mitchell Wilcox and Moss, and Wilcox got the 3rd and final spot in the tight end room. Luckily Moss was signed to the practice squad, which will still get him his opportunity at some point.
Lastly, wide receiver was an intriguing position to keep an eye on as training camp and preseason rolled along. Chase, Higgins, Boyd, and Tate had the first four spots sealed up, so the fight for the final two spots was exciting how it played out. Trenton Irwin impressed greatly throughout the offseason, which led me to believe he would get one of the final roster spots. Trent Taylor was also a guy I thought could land a spot, but he didn’t come along with any eye-opening plays until the final week of preseason. Stanley Morgan Jr ended up with one of the spots due to his ability to thrive on special teams. That was a big part of what earned him a spot. Mike Thomas was the last receiver gunning for a spot. At first, it was announced that he was being released, but after Trent Taylor and Trenton Irwin got added to the practice squad. The Bengals ended up resigning Thomas and giving him that 6th and final receiver spot. I would expect Irwin and Taylor to see plenty of time, though, this season for the Bengals, and Thomas is on a very short leash performance-wise. He will have to make the most of his playing time for Cincinnati.
Ultimately the Bengals didn’t make any eye-opening moves. Some were expected, and some were possibilities. But overall, most of the right moves were made. I would have liked to see Thad Moss get a rooster spot over Wilcox, Irwin over Thomas, and Mike Daniels on the defensive line, but he also got signed to the practice squad. Besides that, though, we made some very solid moves, and it will be fun seeing what this roster does to start the season.