Tag:Cincinnati Bengals
Posted on: March 7, 2012 10:34 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 10:34 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency Previews: AFC North

Can Baltimore do enough this offseason to stay ahead of Pittsburgh and Cincinnati? (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Baltimore Ravens

In 2011, for the fourth time in John Harbaugh's four years as head coach, the Ravens made the playoffs, this time sweeping the Steelers and winning the AFC North in the process. But this team isn't without issues -- questions about Joe Flacco and the passing game linger, the defensive leaders are old, and fans still aren't sold on Harbaugh, especially in big games. Despite the concerns, Baltimore is annually one of the NFL's best teams, thanks largely to general manager Ozzie Newsome's keen ability to put together a roster. 

Free agents of note
The team wisely franchised its best offensive weapon, running back Ray Rice, and now maybe Harbaugh can convince coordinator Cam Cameron to actually use him … Center Matt Birk apparently won't retire this offseason and he'll meet with the team soon to talk about a new deal … That holds for guard Ben Grubbs, too, considered Baltimore's best offensive lineman. The two sides have spoken about a long-term contract but progress has been slow … Linebacker Jarret Johnson might be the Ravens' most underrated defender. If he doesn't return, Jets head coach Rex Ryan is reportedly interested in bringing him to New York … Cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams are restricted free agents but the former could draw some interest even if he receives a first-round tender.

Needs
Flacco was sacked 31 times last season, a career low, but the offensive line is still an issue. They signed Bryant McKinnie off the street to play left tackle and if Grubbs hits free agency, the left side will be a liability.

In the last two offseasons, Baltimore brought in T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Lee Evans and neither impressed. Derrick Mason was Flacco's security blanket for his first three seasons, and now that distinction has fallen to Anquan Boldin (and you could even argue Ray Rice). While Torrey Smith made progress his rookie season, Baltimore needs a quality third receiver to go with their young, emerging tight ends, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.

Targets
Newsome doesn't look to be a big player in free agency because of salary-cap limitations, but Mike Wallace makes a ton of sense if the asking price is a low first-rounder. And while they won't be able to afford guard Carl Nicks, Pro Football Focus suggests that Evan Mathis could be an affordable alternative should Grubbs get away and Mathis doesn't return to Philly.

Cincinnati Bengals

The 2011 Bengals took everyone by surprise, and that includes head coach Marvin Lewis, who probably had no idea what to expect when he re-upped in January, jettisoned Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, and watched as Carson Palmer sat out the season before eventually being traded. Cincy drafted a big-play wideout, a smart, accurate quarterback, started both and ended up in the playoffs. Go figure. If the Bengals are to improve in Year 2, they'll need to upgrade the players around Andy Dalton.

Free agents of note
Running back Cedric Benson made the most of a second chance in Cincy but he won't be back … Wide receiver Jerome Simpson pleaded guilty to drug charges recently and his NFL future is uncertain … Guard Bobbie Williams will likely be replaced and Pacman Jones probably won't be re-signed either … The Bengals would like to keep defensive ends Jonathan Fanene and Frostee Rucker … They franchised kicker Mike Nugent.

Needs
A.J. Green was a godsend but Simpson's legal trouble and Andre Caldwell's inconsistency means that Dalton could use another outside threat. Same holds for the running backs. Bernard Scott will get more carries as a result Benson's departure, but he's not an every-down back (is anybody in today's NFL?). Either way, there isn't much depth behind him unless you think Brian Leonard is a viable second option. With Williams' departure, there's a need at right guard, too.

Targets
The Bengals have some $60 million in cap space and they could address a whole heap of needs … except they rarely go big in free agency. So look for them to focus on less expensive, second-tier players. PFF mentioned Jerricho Cotchery, and Eddie Royal would make sense, too. Effective running backs can be had for cheap, and if none are available before the draft, the Bengals could find one in the later rounds.

Cleveland Browns

Pat Shurmur's first season was a forgettable one (and it's a good bet that, thanks to James Harrison, Colt McCoy has already forgotten it). There were allegations that the offense was too predictable, but this is what happens when a second-year quarterback is without his Pro Bowl running back, doesn't have a go-to receiver, and the offense line struggles to keep him upright. Depending on what happens in free agency and the draft, McCoy's window might already be closed.

Free agents of note
Madden curse victim Peyton Hillis wasn't franchised and has since been reduced to publicly stating that he'd take a hometown discount to stay in Cleveland (and he has no plans to join the CIA) … However, the Browns did franchise 37-year-old kicker Phil Dawson.

Needs
After a promising rookie season, McCoy regressed in Year 2, but again, that wasn't entirely his fault. That said, this is the NFL and second and third chances are rarely granted because of ill-timed misfortune. McCoy should get an opportunity to compete for the starting job but he won't head into training camp with his name atop the depth chart.

Hillis was a flake in 2011 and the Browns can't trust him to show up from one week to the next. Even if he returns on the cheap, they'll need depth behind him.

Greg Little was the team's second-round pick in 2011 but he's raw. He struggled with dropped passes as a rookie but the bigger issue is that Cleveland didn't have a legitimate deep threat.

Targets
There's the possibility that Cleveland makes a move for Robert Griffin III, and even if that doesn't happen, if the Cardinals release Kevin Kolb, the Browns would certainly be interested. Matt Flynn is also a possibility should Peyton Manning end up in Miami.

Whether through the draft or free agency, the Browns haveto find a wideout. Look what A.J. Green did for the Bengals if you need proof for why they're important. Where they find said wideout is a different story. We can't imagine Vincent Jackson would want to come to Cleveland with the QB situation unsettled, but the Browns have two first-rounders. If they don't have to mortgage them both to get RG3, they could address other needs -- including WR -- in Round 1.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Free agents of note
Gone are many of the players responsible for the Steelers' three Super Bowl appearances since 2005: Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, James Farrior, Bryant McFadden and Chris Kemoeatu were all released. Backup defensive tackle Chris Hoke retired, and left tackle Max Starks, who came off his couch to bolster the o-line midway through the '11 season, won't be re-signed. With Mike Wallace a restricted free agent, the Steelers have two wideouts currently under contract (Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders) … Jerricho Cotchery would like to return -- and the team wants him back -- but they'll need to so some salary-cap gymnastics to make it happen … Third-down back Mewelde Moore could return but he's not a priority … Cornerback William Gay was a solid starter but he excels as a nickel back. Again: the cap could determine if he's back … Starting guards Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster are both restricted free agents.

Needs
If Willie Colon can stay healthy, the Steelers should be set at tackle (second-year player Marcus Gilbert will move to the left side in 2012). And with Maurkice Pouncey at center and either Foster or Legursky at right guard, the only gaping hole will be at left guard (which was pretty much the case when Kemoeatu was still with the team).

With Ward and Cotchery now free agents and Wallace a possible target for WR-needy teams, the Steelers need to find depth behind third-year players Brown and Sanders.

Farrior's age (37) and salary necessitated his departure but now Pittsburgh needs to find their next young menacing linebacker to replace him. Larry Foote can serve as the bridge to whomever will end up playing alongside Lawrence Timmons.

There was speculation that nose tackle Casey Hampton could become a cap casualty but he's currently with the team. Still, with Hoke and Smith's departure, Pittsburgh could stand to add some warm bodies along the defensive line.

Targets
Typically, the Steelers don't make many splashy free-agent signings and that'll again be the case this offseason. They'd love to have Cotchery back, as well as find ways to re-sign Moore and possibly Gay (not to mention keep Wallace). Expect them to target an offensive lineman, linebacker or defensive lineman in the early rounds of the draft.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:59 am
 

Simpson pleads guilty to felony drug charge

Simpson pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Josh Katzowitz

Jerome Simpson made perhaps the most exciting play of 2011 when he performed a front flip over Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington and nearly stuck the landing to score a touchdown. Now, Simpson can call himself a convicted felon.

That’s because he pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony charge drug, stemming from an incident in September in which a package containing 2.5 pound bag of high-grade marijuana from California was delivered to his Covington, Ky., home.

Simpson was indicted on a felony charge of marijuana trafficking, but he pleaded guilty to a prohibited act relating to controlled substances. It’s still a Class D felony, and Simpson could face up to 60 days in jail. He also could face a suspension from the league. Simpson will be sentenced April 5.

Simpson and his attorney had no comment as they left the courthouse.

Simpson was an honorable mention in our wide receiver free agent rankings, but with his guilty plea, you’d have to think his stock will drop significantly, despite coming off the best season of his career.

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Posted on: February 26, 2012 2:56 am
Edited on: February 26, 2012 2:58 am
 

Owens catches 3 TD passes in IFL debut

Posted by Eye on Football staff

Terrell Owens, looking to get back into pro football, did just that Saturday night in his debut for the Allen (Texas) Wranglers of the Indoor Football League, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Owens caught three passes for 49 yards and three touchdowns in Allen's 50-30 opening victory at home over the Wichita Wild.

“I think I did all right,” Owens told the Morning News. “I’m just really trying to keep myself in shape for the most part. I feel like I’m healthy enough to play football. There’s not anything that I can’t do.”

The 38-year-old was on the field for 38 plays and was targeted five times in front of a crowd of 5,711. Wranglers owner Jon Frankel told the Morning News that the crowd was larger than the total home attendance for the 2011 season.

Owens hasn’t caught a pass in an NFL game since Dec. 12, 2010 and is using the IFL club as a hopeful springboard to an NFL tryout. He possesses an opt-out clause, in case an NFL franchise offers him a contract. However, after having a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee repaired last year, he hasn’t received much interest from NFL teams.

Facing some press and man-to-man coverage, Owens did not catch a pass in the third or fourth quarters.

 

Posted on: February 17, 2012 2:54 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 3:38 pm
 

Bengals hire Hue Jackson as assistant

JacksonBy Josh Katzowitz

Whatever faults you  might find with Bengals owner Mike Brown -- and I haven’t been ashamed in pointing them out -- you never can begrudge the man his loyalty. And he made another example of that today as the Bengals have announced they’ve hired former Raiders coach (and former Bengals receivers coach) Hue Jackson as an assistant helping the secondary and special teams*.

Jackson, you might recall, was fired only one season into his Oakland tenure after leading the team to an 8-8 record and trading first- and second-round picks to the Bengals for quarterback Carson Palmer.

*It should be noted that Jackson doesn't appear to have ever coached defense, though he did work with special teams when he was at Cal State-Fullerton in 1990 and the World League's London Monarchs in 1991. So yeah, this totally seems like a loyalty hire.

After Al Davis’ death and the hiring of general manager Reggie McKenzie, Jackson’s stay with the Raiders was doomed. Particularly after he tore into his team following a Week 17 loss, saying he was pissed off and disappointed. “I’m going to take a stronger hand in this whole team, in this whole organization,” Jackson said at the time. “There ain’t no way that I’m going to feel like I feel today a year from now. I promise you that."

Well, that’s totally true now, because Jackson should be in Cincinnati in Week 17 of 2012.

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It’s a place where he spent 2004-06, helping mold Chad Ochocinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh into two of the better receivers in the league. And while he had the Raiders in the race for an AFC West title this year -- until, that is, a guy named Tim Tebow emerged for the Broncos -- McKenzie decided to bring in his own coach after the season.

“A the end of the day, I didn’t win enough games, didn’t get to the playoffs,” Jackson said in January. “Once Mark (Davis, Al’s son) saw where the franchise was, after he hired Reggie, he gave Reggie the opportunity to bring in his own coach.”

There has been speculation on who actually brokered the trade that seems like it’ll pay off awfully well for the Bengals -- Jackson now says he only helped bring the Raiders and Bengals together and that those on a higher pay-grade made the final decision.

But now, Jackson is in the strange position to see how the deal works out from the opposite side of where he was when he first helped make it.

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 8:14 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 8:16 pm
 

T.O., nearly broke, doesn't want your pity

Owens says he trusted the wrong people and now he's nearly broke and facing mounting bills. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

The NFL season may be over but that doesn't mean there's no football on the horizon. Yes, the NFL Combine is less than two weeks away but the same day that offensive linemen and tight ends go through their on-field paces at Lucas Oil Stadium, Terrell Owens will be making is IFL debut with the Allen Wranglers.

Okay, you were probably expecting a bit more in the "Wait, there's still football!" build up. And we suspect that, come Februrary 25, many of you will opt to watch 350-pound guys run 40 yards in a straight line (possible unintentional comedy value) over T.O.'s not-so-triumphant return to football (if you're into tragicomedy, then maybe Owens and the Wranglers are for you).

Part of the reason T.O. signed up for IFL duty is because he had burned a lot of NFL bridges. And of those left standing, no one was interested enough in a 37-year-old wide receiver with behavior-management issues to give him a shot. So the Wranglers, where Owens is also co-owner, was his only football-playing option. Exacerbating matters: T.O., who was in the NFL for 15 seasons and signed contracts worth $80 million, is nearly broke.

Appearing on ESPN Radio recently, Owens, however, said people shouldn't feel sorry for him.

"Absolutely not," he said via Sports Radio Interviews. "As far as my situation? The thought that I’ve lost $80 million dollars? That’s a little bit skewed considering like you said if you look at the years and the contracts that I have had and me not actually completing a couple of those contracts in their entirety.

"Again no matter what I have lost money," he continued. "It’s partially my fault because I didn’t manage and I wasn’t on top of my financial people as I should have. Again who’s to say how much I lost? Have I lost money? Yeah. Was it $80 million? I doubt it. But at the same time I feel like this is a situation for me to go out and speak and let a lot of guys know that are coming into the National Football League or any league for that matter … When you have financial advisors that you’re dealing with and that are on their team that are supposed to be taking care of their finances … I feel victim to it because I had heard about these stories prior to it happening to me and there’s going to be some other stories after me. The fact that I took for granted the orientations and the seminars that we had during the course of football season where these guys basically came in and tried to help us, facilitate us and educate us on your financial matters. I didn’t take advantage of that because I was referred to this guy that mismanaged my situation by my agent and my marketing guys."

Owens first spoke publicly about his financial situation in the January issue of GQ, even recounting one story where a friend, "a guy who I'd helped when his grandmother passed," drained one of his bank accounts of more than $270,000. He says the bank returned the money but "it pretty much destroyed whatever trust in people I had left." The article says that Owens never had many friends — teammates never called him to party, he says, wrongly assuming that he was "too big" to socialize — and now, "I don't have no friends. I don't want no friends. That's how I feel."

His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, called when he found out Owens had taken huge finiancial losses.

"When Drew heard about what had happened with my money, he said, 'Oh man, is there anything I can do?' " Owens told GQ. "And I said, 'Dude, are you going to give me my money back? I don't think so, so why bother trying to appease me?' " (Rosenhaus' response: "In my opinion, the conversation did not go down that way." )

Now T.O. is left with barely anything in the bank, plenty of Bills -- including child support payments to four women that total $44,600 a month -- and until he signed with the Wranglers, no discernible income.

"Now I’m even hungrier to get back on top and do the things I think the way I should have been doing it," he told ESPN Radio. "I’ve had some people who have supposedly been in my corner that have my bests interests in heart and I’ve come to find out that’s not what happened. Again I will reiterate it is partially my fault because I wasn’t doing my due diligence to be on top of my own finances and it’s a sad situation.”

And that brings us back to the Wranglers. T.O. will make his debut in 11 days.

"…I’m using this as a platform really to keep myself in shape. The business side of it too is something that intrigued me, being a co-owner with the team, so again this is me transitioning into life after football. That’s the business side of it, obviously football doesn’t last forever and I feel I’m physically fit and can play at a productive level to where I can play a couple more years in the National Football League and that’s what I’m pushing for," he said. 

"Other than that I’m not going to give up hope just because somebody says that I’m 38 and I just had a knee injury. Injuries are part of the game. I think everybody knows my track record … I work out hard, I’m going to do whatever I can to get back on the field and get back to 100 percent and I’m doing that.”

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Posted on: February 11, 2012 2:48 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2012 2:54 pm
 

Maualuga charged with misdemeanor assault

MaualugaBy Josh Katzowitz

We told you the other day that Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga had been accused by a downtown Cincinnati bar manager of punching him last weekend. Now, Cincinnati police have formally charged Maualuga with misdemeanor assault for the alleged incident that occurred at a bar called Luxe.

The Cincinnati Enquirer writes that the manager, Sammy Laham, accused Maualuga of punching him in the face about 3:15 a.m. last Sunday.

The team and Maualuga’s agent have declined comment.

The last time Maualuga was in trouble occurred in January 2010 when he pleaded guilty to DUI after he crashed a car with a blood-alcohol level of 0.157. At the time, the paper writes, he was put on probation for two years -- a probation that ended two days before the latest alleged incident in downtown Cincinnati.

The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum of 180 days in jail. Maualuga is due in court for his arraignment next Friday at 12:30 p.m.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 11:28 pm
 

Report: Maualuga accused of punching bar manager

By Josh Katzowitz

According to Fox 19 in Cincinnati, a downtown bar manager has accused Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga of punching him, “causing him to be injured.”

The TV station reports that police are still investigating last weekend’s incident that occured at Luxe, a bar in downtown Cincinnati. Maualuga has not been charged. Maualuga’s agent, Gary Uberstine, declined to comment to Fox 19.

Maualuga pleaded guilty to drunk driving in February 2010 after crashing his car in Covington, Ky., but he was not suspended by the NFL.

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Posted on: January 27, 2012 6:03 pm
 

Greg Cook played one season but had major impact

Greg Cook died at the age of 65 (US Presswire).

Greg Cook badly injured his shoulder in 1969, and after that season, was never the same (US Presswire).By Josh Katzowitz

In 1969, Greg Cook was a specimen at quarterback during his rookie year for the Bengals. He led the AFL by completing 53.9 percent of his passes for 1,854 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions (he played in only 11 of the team’s 14 games), and at the time, it was one of the best seasons ever by a rookie quarterback. He could throw the ball 70 yards, and he possessed great touch and timing.

In his rookie season, he also averaged 17.5 yards per pass – the 12th best season average in NFL/AFL history. Cook – who, at 65 years old, died Thursday – was destined to be a superstar, perhaps one of the best quarterbacks of all time.

But while that one season was the highlight of his entire playing career, Cook’s legacy indirectly impacted much of the NFL offense you watch today. Cook, you see, was the main reason Bill Walsh had to implement the West Coast offense in 1970.

“Greg was the single most talented player we’ve ever had with the Bengals,” Bengals president Mike Brown said in a statement. “His career was tragically short due to the injury. Had he been able to stay healthy, I believe he would have been the player of his era in the NFL.

“Greg was a personal friend to me. He was a good person whose company I enjoyed over all his years as a player and after that. I feel a great loss at his passing.”

The reason you probably don’t remember Cook today is because in the third game of his rookie season, he suffered a bad shoulder injury that was later diagnosed as a torn rotator cuff. He missed the next three games, but returned for the final half of the season to finish his rookie year on a high note.

But after undergoing several surgeries to repair his shoulder, Cook would play only one more game in his career, throwing just three passes in 1973 before disappearing into the Cincinnati landscape.

Yet, Cook was a godsend for Walsh, who was helping run the Bengals offense. He had expected Cook to return for his second season in 1970, and Walsh planned to continue using Cook’s big arm to mold a downfield vertical passing attack. But without Cook, the Bengals had to go with backup Virgil Carter, who was not as talented but was considering a quick-thinking quarterback.

As Sports Illustrated’s Paul Zimmerman wrote in 2001, “Carter was able to go through his progressions quickly and throw on the go; not blessed with a big arm, but accurate. So Walsh crafted an offense to suit him, a horizontal offense with a lot of motion and underneath routes and breakoff patterns, an attack that now goes by the misnomer ‘West Coast Offense.’”

It’s a misnomer because, although Walsh had his greatest success in San Francisco, the idea was hatched in the Midwest. And though the man from whom Walsh took much of his cues in developing the offense was a longtime Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers coach, Sid Gillman had started making his passing game more horizontal when he coach at Miami (Ohio) and the University of Cincinnati in the 1940s and 1950s.

Once, Zimmerman asked Walsh how much his system would have changed if Cook had a long career. “Completely different," he said. "It would have been down the field."

And thus, how much differently would the NFL look today without the West Coast offense and Cook’s contribution? I imagine it wasn’t any consolation to Cook, but without his injury, the league could have been a vastly-different, less-exciting place.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com