Cincinnati Bengals Rumors & News

NFL Suspends Bengals CB Adam Jones

Bengals cornerback Adam Jones has been suspended for one game for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Jones pled guilty to obstruction of official business stemming from a January 2017 incident.

Jones will appeal the ruling, according to a source who spoke with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (on Twitter). Meanwhile, agent Peter Schaffer tells Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link) that Jones has not yet reached a decision on whether to appeal."<strong

Initially, Jones was charged with three misdemeanors and a felony after an ugly string of incidents. The cornerback allegedly assaulted a man by “pushing and poking” him in the eye in a late-night argument. Then, he refused to stop when ordered to by police and he refused to enter the cop car as he kicked and head-butted officers. Then, when he arrived at jail, he allegedly spit on a nurse, resulting in the felony charge. Despite all of that, Jones was sentenced only to time served, which amounted to two days in jail.

The Bengals anticipated this result and are glad to finally put the matter behind us,” the team said in a statement. “Our focus is getting ready for the upcoming season. Adam will participate in training camp and we are counting on him to help our team when he returns from suspension.”

Jones will be out of action for the season opener against the Ravens on Sept. 10. He’ll be eligible to return for Week 2 against the Texans.

All things considered, the one-game ban isn’t a bad outcome for Jones given his history and the severity of allegations from earlier this year. In Week 1, the Bengals will rely a little more on Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, and William Jackson III to keep opposing receivers in check. Losing Jones isn’t ideal, but a team could do a lot worse than trotting out three former first-round picks at corner.

The 33-year-old saw his production slip a bit in 2016, grading as only the league’s No. 37 cornerback, per Pro Football Focus. In 2015, PFF had him ranked as the NFL’s 15th best corner.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Marvin Lewis On Bengals' Joe Mixon Selection

Speaking with Sirius XM on Thursday, head coach Marvin Lewis delved into the Bengals’ decision to select controversial running back Joe Mixon with the 48th pick in the draft (via Conor Orr of NFL.com). The ex-Oklahoma Sooner was caught on video striking a woman back in 2014, which caused some teams to remove him from their draft boards. Not the Bengals, though, and Lewis explained that “a lot of time” and “a lot of research” went into picking Mixon. “Time spent with Joe. Time researching people around Joe. Joe’s past in East Bay [California],” he continued. “All those kinds of things that way. His past on campus at Oklahoma since the incident. So, there couldn’t be any other red flags to say, ‘Well, well, maybe…’ No, no, no. It had to be clean, and Joe knows that. He knows going forward, it has to stay clean all the time. He’s lived on the tip of the sword for three years now, and he’s got to continue to probably for the rest of his life.” If Mixon can avoid further off-field troubles, Lewis expects him to succeed in the pros, in part because “he’s off the charts talent-wise” and “as smart as a whip.”

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Bell, Bengals

Here’s a look at the AFC North:

  • Given the market for the running back position, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has reason to get a deal done rather than play the year out, Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap writes. In the case of quarterback Kirk Cousins, he knows that a better offer will be coming his way next year. For Bell, however, the risk of an injury is so big that he probably has to consider any deal that gives him more than $9MM per year on average, Fitzgerald feels. There hasn’t been a ton of progress between the Steelers and Bell lately, but the Steelers have a track record for treating their players properly. If the two sides can’t come to terms, then Bell will play out the year on a one-year deal worth just over $12MM.
  • In the event of an injury, the Steelers might regret not doing more at the running back position behind Bell, Ray Fittpaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. The Steelers are 11-5 (playoffs included) without Bell over the last two seasons. This time around, however, they are without the safety net of DeAngelo Williams. Williams remains on the open market and hopes that a return might be in the cards. For now, however, the Steelers have Fitzgerald Toussaint, third-round pick James Conner, and former Chiefs tailback Knile Davis behind Bell.
  • Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is on the hottest seat of any coach in the AFC North, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com opines. In all of his years at the helm, the Bengals have not managed to win a single playoff game, and that’s a bigger headline than the team’s five consecutive playoff berths from 2011-2015. With a shaky offensive line, there’s no guarantee that the Bengals will be able to snap the streak this year. If the Bengals cannot take a step forward in 2017, this could be Lewis’ last year in Cincinnati.

Offseason In Review: Cincinnati Bengals

In 2016, the Bengals missed the postseason for the first time in the Andy Dalton/A.J. Green era, posting a 6-9-1 record after earning playoff berths each season from 2011-15. Now, Cincinnati could be gunning for one more trip to the postseason under Marvin Lewis, who is entering the 2017 campaign as a lame duck head coach. Armed with a top-10 draft pick for the first time since 2011, the Bengals had offseason work to do on both sides of the ball.

Notable signings:

Although the Bengals have drafted two more first-round cornerbacks since selecting Dre Kirkpatrick with the 17th overall pick in 2012, their lack of options in the secondary meant Cincinnati still needed to open up their checkbook to retain the Alabama product. Darqueze Dennard has barely played since entering the league in 2014, while William Jackson III missed his entire rookie campaign after tearing a pectoral. With a legal issue hanging over veteran Adam Jones, the Bengals couldn’t afford to let Kirkpatrick — the team’s most reliable option at corner — leave via free agency.Dre Kirkpatrick (Vertical)

It’s easy to call the Kirkpatrick contract an overpay, as he’s never resembled a true No. 1 corner during his five-year NFL tenure. In 2016, Pro Football Focus graded Kirkpatrick as just the 52nd-best corner among 111 qualifiers, while he’s provided the 20th-most approximate value (Pro Football Reference’s catch-all metric) among cornerbacks since becoming a full-time starter in 2015. Despite that spotty record, Kirkpatrick’s new $10.5MM annual average ranks 11th among corners.

However, as with most Bengals contracts, the deal is more team-friendly than it initially appears. Kirkpatrick received only $12MM in full guarantees, which ranks 25th among cornerbacks, while his guarantee per year ($2.4MM) is only 24th among non-rookie corner accords. Conceivably, Cincinnati could remove itself from Kirkpatrick’s contract as soon as next spring — before he’s due a $3.25MM roster bonus — if he tanks during the 2017 campaign, and the dead money that would accelerate onto the Bengals’ cap following a release in either 2018 or 2019 isn’t ominous. Those scenarios are unlikely, of course, as most Cincinnati extendees play out their pacts.

While Kirkpatrick represented the majority of the Bengals’ free agent outlay, the club also made a value signing on defense with the addition of former Cardinals linebacker Kevin Minter. Only 26 years old, Minter played on at least 85% of Arizona’s defensive snaps in each of the past two seasons, and figures to slot in next to Vontaze Burfict in Cincinnati’s starting lineup. The Bengals made a smart contractual decision with Minter, using a $1.1MM workout bonus — which doesn’t count against the compensatory average per year formula — in order to lower his overall contract value. As Nick Korte of Over the Cap explained earlier this year (Twitter links), that strategy could end up bumping the Bengals’ projected seventh-round compensatory selection to a sixth-rounder, a marginal (but important) win.Andre Smith

On the other side of the ball, Andre Smith is back in a Bengals uniform after a brief one-season layover in Minnesota. Smith, whom Cincinnati originally drafted sixth overall in 2009, won’t be lining up at his usual right tackle position, however, as the Bengals signed him to play guard. We’ll discuss Cincinnati’s offensive line issues a bit later, but the decision to bring in Smith is a risky one on two fronts. First, he’s never played guard in his NFL career, and second, he only managed to appear in four games in 2016 before going down with injury. The Bengals don’t have much high-quality interior depth, so relying on Smith as a starter at an all-new position seems perilous.

Elsewhere on offense, Cincinnati continued to opt for familiarity, re-signing wide receiver Brandon LaFell, running back Cedric Peerman, and offensive tackle Eric Winston to play reserve roles. LaFell, notably, led Bengals pass-catchers in snaps a season ago, but despite the fact that he’ll earn $5MM in 2017, his playtime percentage will almost certainly decrease. First-round rookie John Ross figures to start opposite A.J. Green with Tyler Boyd in the slot, meaning LaFell will be a well-paid fourth receiver at best.

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Could 2017 Be Final Season For Marvin Lewis?

  • Several ESPN writers weighed in on whether 2017 could be the final season for coach Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati. Jeremy Fowler believes he’ll be back with the Bengals if the team finishes with a winning record, while Jamison Hensley notes that the team has shown consistent regular season success under his leadership. On the flip side, Pat McManamon acknowledges that there’s been a “fair amount of chatter” that Lewis could ultimately move on, although he notes that the coach has no incentive to retire.

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Bengals Unlikely To Cut Brandon LaFell

You’re not likely to see the Bengals drop Brandon LaFell from the roster, Katherine Terrelle of ESPN.com tweets. While there is lots of young talent at wide receiver, cutting LaFell would require a $3MM+ dead money hit just after re-signing him this year. He also has a strong mentor/mentee relationship with A.J. Green that coaches do not want to bust up. The Bengals have Green, speedy rookie John Ross, Tyler Boyd, LaFell, and fourth-round pick Josh Malone as their top five receivers. Youngsters Cody Core, Alex Erickson, Jake Kumerow, and Chris Brown are left to fight for a spot that may or may not be available.

Cowher: Bengals Smart To Keep Lewis

The Bengals deserve credit for sticking with Marvin Lewis rather than making a coaching change along the way, former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher says.

After going 6-9 in 2016, Lewis is entering a contract year with the Bengals. The coach pushed for a new deal in the winter, but backed off of that request in the spring, perhaps after being shut down by team brass. Bengals players say they aren’t dwelling on Lewis’ future, but the coach is probably feeling the heat.

The Bengals have reached the AFC wild-card round seven times under Lewis, including five consecutive years from 2011 through 2015, but lost each time. If the Bengals cannot make real headway in the postseason this year, their patience with Lewis might run out.

Bengals Told Bradley Roby They'd Draft Him In 2014

  • The Bengals told current Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby that he’d be their pick at No. 24 in the 2014 draft, but that changed after Roby was charged with OVI, as Roby explains to Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. Cincinnati instead chose Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, a choice that — at least through three seasons — was clearly the incorrect choice. While Roby has played well as Denver’s third corner after being selected 31st overall in ’14, Dennard has struggled to get on the field in the Queen City. A fitting conclusion to the tale? Vance Joseph, now the Broncos head coach, was the Bengals defensive backs coach in 2014 who promised Roby he wouldn’t fall past pick No. 24.

Bengals Sign Cameron Lee

  • The Bengals have signed guard Cameron Lee, the club announced today. Lee went undrafted earlier this year out of Illinois State after playing in 39 games during his collegiate career. After originally signing with the Saints as a UDFA, Lee was waived earlier this month. He’ll compete with Christian Westerman, T.J. Johnson, J.J. Dielman, and Trey Hopkins for playing time as an interior reserve.

Bengals Not Sweating Lewis' Future

  • There’s a lot of chatter about coach Marvin Lewis‘ future with the Bengals, but the players aren’t necessarily dwelling on it. “He doesn’t talk about contracts. He doesn’t talk about his situation,” quarterback Andy Dalton said (via Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer) . “It’s all about having a good year. So, the guys aren’t thinking about that.” While Bengals players say they are focused on winning rather than saving Lewis’ job, every player quoted in the story had positive things to say about the coach.