Bengals Rumors

Bengals Place DE Gaelin Elmore On Reserve/Retired List

It sounds like Gaelin Elmore‘s NFL career will be ending before it even began. Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com reports that the Bengals placed the rookie defensive end on the reserve/retired list earlier today. Darren Wolfson of KSTP.com tweets that Elmore is planning on going into the ministry.

Placement on the list indicates that Elmore has chosen to retire instead of honoring his contract. The defensive end won’t count towards the Bengals’ roster or cap. However, the organization will hold the rights to the defensive end.

Elmore had three solid seasons with Minnesota, including a 2016 campaign where he compiled 16 tackles, four tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and three fumble recoveries. He transferred to East Carolina for the 2017 season and wasn’t nearly as productive, finishing the year with only 14 tackles. Despite the underwhelming campaign, the Bengals clearly had high hopes for the prospect. After going undrafted in this year’s draft, Elmore signed a three-year, $1.71MM deal with the team.

Following Elmore’s retirement, the Bengals are now relatively thin at defensive end. Behind starters Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson, the team is only rostering a pair of backups in Jordan Willis and Sam Hubbard.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cedric Ogbuehi On Move To Right Tackle

  • Former first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi has been a severe disappointment during the first three years of his career, but the Bengals offensive lineman is now feeling revived by a planned move from left to right tackle, according to Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer“Coming in at right, at a new position, I felt comfortable,” said Ogbuehi. “Feeling comfortable is a big part of it. I played it. I know what to expect now. I know a lot; like what to do better than last time. I’m excited for the challenge. I’m excited for camp.” Cincinnati doesn’t much invested in Ogbuehi’s future, as the club has already rejected his 2019 fifth-year option. Additionally, the Bengals acquired Cordy Glenn from the Bills during the offseason, and will now install the veteran on Andy Dalton‘s blindside. Still, the 26-year-old Ogbuehi could have one last chance as a starter on the right side while working under new offensive line coach Frank Pollack, all before hitting free agency next March.
  • In case you missed it, PFR’s Zach Links outlined Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap‘s case for a contract extension, noting Cincinnati’s heavy investment along the edge position in recent drafts.

Extension Candidate: Carlos Dunlap

Earlier this year, defensive end Carlos Dunlap opted to skip the Bengals’ organized team activities. The decision to work out on his own in Florida cost him $300K in bonuses, but it may have helped him ramp up pressure on the team as he pushes for a new deal. For his part, Dunlap claims his decision was made for football reasons

[RELATED:Tyler Kroft Seeking Contract Extension]

“All the comments and everything talking about the reasons for me not being here obviously hit home a little bit because they painted me to be a selfish guy, which was not my objective,” Dunlap said. “My goal was to make sure I was in the best shape for when football starts so that I can be there for my team for the long haul.”

Either way, it’s clear that Dunlap wants to stay with the Bengals beyond 2018 on a new and improved deal. The Bengals also want to keep him for the long haul, but only at the right price.

Dunlap is entering the final year of the six-year, $40MM extension he signed in 2013. The 29-year-old will earn a base salary of $7MM, which is well below his true value.

Extending Dunlap is a pricey proposition and the decision is complicated by the club’s other extension candidates. Fellow defensive lineman Geno Atkins is entering the final year of his contract and a new pact may call for upwards of $12MM per year. Cornerback Darqueze Dennard is coming off of a career year and the Bengals would like to keep him, despite the presence of Dre Kirkpatrick and William Jackson III. There’s also a trio of tight ends to consider in Tyler Kroft, Tyler Eifert, and C.J. Uzomah, and the team may want to leave some money in the coffers to re-sign defensive end Michael Johnson after the 2018 season.

The Bengals have also invested heavily in defensive ends in recent drafts by adding Carl LawsonJordan Willis, and Sam Hubbard. In theory, they can part with Dunlap if the price gets too high if they are confident in their your DE group.

Still, Dunlap has been tremendous in Cincinnati, particularly in the second half of games. The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus have routinely rated him as a top-30 edge defender over the past seven seasons and he has been equally strong against the pass and the run. Even if the youngsters could do an admirably job in his stead, losing Dunlap would hurt the team’s front seven.

Dunlap is well aware of the riches that could await him in free agency as the edge defender market continues to rise sharply. In theory, Dunlap could parlay a big 2018 season into a $15MM/year deal, but he would be taking a risk if he cannot turn in another quality season for the Bengals. A new deal would give him financial security and, depending on the length of the deal, give him an opportunity to retire with the only club he’s ever known.

There are a lot of mouths to feed in Cincinnati, but Johnson’s expiring $6.1MM contract should provide the team enough room to get a deal done. If Dunlap is willing to sacrifice some upside in order to remain with the Bengals, the two sides could find a midpoint with a four-year extension in the range of $50MM. Alternatively, a shorter extension could make sense for the two sides. An additional three years added to Dunlap’s contract would allow him to hit the open market again at the age of 32 and give the Bengals some wiggle room should they look to hang on to their trio of younger defensive ends.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Add To Scouting Staff

Tyler Kroft Seeking Contract Extension

Tyler Eifert is one of the most talented receiving tight ends in the league, but he just can’t seem to stay healthy. An unrestricted free agent this past offseason, he could have earned a massive payday if he had proven to be more durable. But he missed almost all of the 2017 campaign with a back injury, and he has missed over half of Cincinnati’s regular-season games during his tenure with the club. Ultimately, he signed a one-year deal worth up to $8.5MM to stay with the Bengals in 2018, which is still a nice chunk of change, but nowhere near what his talent itself would otherwise command.

But another Tyler and tight end, Rutgers product Tyler Kroft, emerged during Eifert’s absence last year, posting 42 catches for 404 yards and seven scores. The 2015 third-round selection picked a good time to establish himself as a receiving threat, as he is entering his contract year and, much like Trey Burton this offseason, could score a lucrative free agent pact even if he plays second fiddle to Eifert in 2018.

Kroft is fully aware of his contract status, and per Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer, he would like to land a second contract from the team that drafted him. Kroft, however, does not want to dwell on the matter. He said, “[A new contract is] in the back of my head but I’m trying not to give it too much thought and try and control what I can control. That’s basically how I’ve been trying to think about it. Not get too excited or too down.”

He did, though, express confidence in his abilities and his role in the offense, which could be increased even more if Eifert — whose availability for training camp is already uncertain — once again struggles to stay on the field. If the Bengals are similarly confident in Kroft’s long-term prospects, they may want to lock him up now before his asking price continues to go up. After all, compared to his counterpart, Kroft has been a bastion of durability, having played in 46 of a possible 48 regular-season games over his first three years in the league.

In other Bengals news, Owczarski reports that Cedric Ogbuehi is (surprisingly) building momentum towards landing the team’s starting right tackle spot. Ogbuehi has been a major disappointment since the Bengals selected him in the first round of the 2015 draft, but he has looked good in spring practices and has adapted well to offensive line coach Frank Pollack‘s new scheme and techniques.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extension Candidate: Geno Atkins

This offseason, we have (rightfully) heard a great deal about potential extensions for star defenders Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, and Jadeveon Clowney. That discussion has overshadowed Geno Atkins, to some extent, as he pushes for a new deal.

The defensive tackle inked a five-year, $53.3MM extension with the Bengals back in 2013, which has him in place through the 2018 season. The deal has proved to be a winner for both sides. For the Bengals, the deal allowed them to keep a top performer under contract at roughly $10.6MM per year while the market advanced at a sharp rate. Atkins, meanwhile, made more cash than he could ever hope to spend and is now primed to do it all over again at the age of 30.

When Atkins’ deal began in 2014, he was the NFL’s third-highest paid 4-3 defensive tackle with a $9MM cap number. Today, his $9.5MM cap figure for 2018 places him seventh in the same category. After finishing the year as Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 ranked interior defender – behind only Donald – something has to change.

Like Donald, Atkins is a stout run defender with the ability to also disrupt opposing quarterbacks from the interior. Atkins has notched at least nine sacks in each of the last three seasons, and, save for the 2013 season cut short by an ACL tear, he has never missed a game. Donald is still three years younger and in a class of his own, but Atkins has been far more dominant than many outside of Cincinnati realize.

If Donald signs first, Atkins’ camp will have a favorable comp to work off of, even though his deal will be worth less. The Bengals aren’t technically on the clock here, but they may want to get a deal done sooner rather than later.

A new deal for Atkins will definitely cost eight figures per year, but it remains to be seen how far the Bengals will go. With a fluid cap situation both this year and next, you can expect the Bengals to lock up Atkins on a multi-year deal worth around $12MM per season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Who Will Be The First Coach To Get Fired This Season?

It’s a new year for every coach in the NFL, but not every coach will survive the year. Already, there’s speculation about which coaches could be on the hot seat in 2018. Some coaches with shaky job security may include:

  • Hue Jackson, Browns: Jackson is the oddsmaker’s favorite to lose his job first. After compiling a 1-31 record in his two seasons at the helm in Cleveland, it’s hard to argue with the professionals. Jackson certainly has more talent to work with thanks to the arrivals of running back Carlos Hyde, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, and a vastly improved secondary, but along with that comes raised expectations. When also considering that Jackson is a holdover from the previous regime and not necessarily the preferred choice of new GM John Dorsey, it’s quite possible that Jackson could be ousted with another bad start.
  • Adam Gase, Dolphins: When Gase was hired in 2016, he was the league’s youngest head coach at the age of 38. He earned a playoff appearance in his first year on the sidelines, but last year turned ugly after quarterback Ryan Tannehill was lost for the season and replaced by Jay Cutler. Tannehill’s return should help matters, but it’s fair to wonder whether this team has improved much at all after losing Ndamukong Suh on the other side of the ball. The Dolphins’ early schedule may also hurt Gase as they open against the Titans, Jets, Raiders, and Patriots. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Dolphins split those games, like they did in 2017, but it’s also conceivable that they could open the year 0-4. As you can probably guess, an 0-4 start is historically difficult to climb out from. Of the 117 teams that have started 0-4 in the 16-game era, the ’92 Chargers are the ones to have reached the postseason with with an 11-win campaign. The 2004 Bills and the 2017 Chargers both rallied to win nine games, but neither club reached the playoffs.
  • Marvin Lewis, Bengals: The Lewis saga took some weird twists and turns last season. In the midst of a second-straight season without a playoff appearance, there was speculation about Lewis’ job security. Then, in December, we started hearing rumblings that Lewis might leave the Bengals to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Ultimately, Lewis was signed to a two-year extension to, theoretically, keep him under contract for his 16th and 17th seasons in Cincinnati. Lewis has avoided lame duck status for 2018, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll survive the year if the Bengals falter.
  • Vance Joseph, Broncos: Joseph was nearly axed after the 2017 season before John Elway ultimately decided to retain him. The Broncos’ defense is still jam-packed with talent and they have a capable quarterback in Case Keenum, so anything short of a playoff appearance will be a disappointment in Denver. This will be Joseph’s second season at the helm in Denver, but it’s clear that he is under pressure it win.
  • Dirk Koetter, Buccaneers: Koetter was already believed to be on the hot seat but he was placed squarely behind the 8-ball last week when quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended for the first three games of the season. Even if the Bucs come out of September unscathed, they’ll be up against an overall schedule that is the fourth-toughest in the NFL, based on the combined win percentage of opponents in 2017.

The list goes on from there. Jay Gruden (Redskins), Todd Bowles (Jets), Bill O’Brien (Texans), Jason Garrett (Cowboys), John Harbaugh (Ravens), and Ron Rivera (Panthers) could also be in varying degrees of jeopardy with disappointing seasons. We’d be surprised to see a quick hook for Garrett, Harbaugh, or Rivera no matter what happens, but you may feel differently.

Click below to make your pick for who will be the first to get the axe. Then, you can head to the comment section to back up your choice.

[RELATED: The Average Age Of NFL Head Coaches In 2018]

Latest On Darqueze Dennard

Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard will play out the 2018 season under the fifth-year option of his rookie deal, so he will be eligible for unrestricted free agency next offseason. After an underwhelming and injury-plagued first three years in the league, the Michigan State product turned in a strong 2017, mostly as a slot corner, and he has set himself up for a nice payday if he replicates that performance in 2018 (which would also make for a difficult business decision for Cincinnati).

As Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes, the Bengals have proven that they are willing to pay when it comes to cover corners. And Dennard believes he can not only be a good slot corner, but that he can handle opposing receivers outside the numbers as well, which he showed flashes of last season. The team has previously indicated that it would be open to extending Dennard, despite the investments it has already made in fellow corners Dre Kirkpatrick and William Jackson III, but Dennard himself is not sure if he’s ready for that conversation just yet.

He said, “That’s something that I think me and my agent and my family will have to sit down and talk about. But I mean, when that time come, the time come. I’m not pressed on it. I’ve got some goals that I have personally that I gotta work on, on the football field.”

He then suggested that he may be interested in testing the open market, as he smiled and added, “You know how defensive backs is anyway – we like to gamble. So I’m not too much sure how I feel any way about it.”

In any event, Dennard is slated to earn $8.526MM in 2018, which actually makes him the 21st-highest paid CB in the game. He will look to build on a 2017 campaign that saw him post career highs in forced fumbles (one), interceptions (two), sacks (two), passes defensed (six), solo (61) and total tackles (85).

In other Bengals news, Owczarski reports that the team has shown interest in supplemental draft prospects Sam Beal and Adonis Alexander, both of whom are cornerbacks who could theoretically replace Dennard in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

A.J. Green Will Not Ask For New Deal

  • Bengals WR A.J. Green is entering the fourth year of the five-year pact he signed in September 2015, which made him the highest-paid receiver in the league at the time. In terms of average annual value, Green is now the sixth-highest paid wideout in the game, and if Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. get their way, he will be the eighth-highest paid by the time the regular season rolls around. But as Paul Dehner Jr. and Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer write, it does not sound as if Green will be asking for more money until the expiration of his current deal at the end of the 2019 season. Green supports his colleagues’ efforts to rework their existing contracts, but as for himself, he said, “I don’t really get caught up in what’s the money like because I signed my deal and it was the highest paid at that point. It’s going to always go up. So you can’t keep up with that. At the end of the day [owner Mike Brown] took care of me. I’m still under contract for the next two years and we’ll go from there.” 

Bengals Boast Open RG Competition