Eric Henderson

Bengals Notes: Eifert, Staff, O-Line

While Tyler Eifert has been one of the most injury-riddled players in the NFL over the past few seasons, he may still have an avenue back to Cincinnati. The Bengals may be able to bring him back on a cheaper, incentive-laden deal than the one he signed last year, Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. Eifert decided between the Bengals and Rams last year, and with Zac Taylor coming from Los Angeles to Cincinnati, he may view Eifert as a possible target. Eifert received more than $4MM last year but did not trigger any performance incentives. The 28-year-old tight end posted a workout video on Twitter recently, showing he has made significant strides since breaking his ankle last season. Eifert, though, has missed an astounding 34 games since his 2015 Pro Bowl season. His previous backups, Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah, are also free agents. So, the Bengals will have to make a few moves to solidify this position this offseason. Jared Cook, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Jeff Heuerman highlight a thin tight end free agent group.

Here is the latest from southwest Ohio:

  • The Bengals are interested in giving Saints defensive assistant Michael Hodges a promotion. The team submitted a request to interview Hodges for its vacant linebackers coach position, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio tweets. A two-year New Orleans staffer, Hodges primarily works under Mike Nolan in working with linebackers. Nolan and Saints DC Dennis Allen were linked to the Bengals’ now-filled DC job, but the franchise clearly likes what the Saints have done to revamp their defense. The Bengals were also interested in Chargers assistant defensive line coach Eric Henderson, a Bengal from 2006-08, but he accepted a job with the Rams instead, Marvez adds (via Twitter).
  • While the Bengals have a new coaching staff, which is still being filled out, their front office remains unchanged. That will mean a similar approach in free agency. The Bengals are not expected to be players for big-name UFAs, Dehner notes. Cincinnati is one of the more conservative franchises on this front, but Dehner does expect more roster changes than the team has seen in recent years. This may mean being connected to second-tier free agents. With a new coach in place for the first time since 2003, that can be assumed.
  • Cordy Glenn and Billy Price came in last year to fill spots on Cincinnati’s offensive line, but the team is still expected to pursue upgrades — either through free agency or the draft — for the right side of the front, Dehner notes. The Bengals’ 2015 draft choices of Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher did not end up working out. The former never found his footing and the latter started just one game in 2018. Taylor coached Ja’Wuan James with the 2015 Dolphins, potentially creating a possible landing spot for the UFA right tackle. However, Dehner expects the team select a right tackle with one of its first two picks.

Extra Points: Gruden, Raiders, Rams, Browns, Chiefs

Jon Gruden seemed to indicate the Raiders wouldn’t be overly aggressive in free agency this offseason during a recent podcast interview, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports. “Obviously, we’re not looking to add players at the end of their career. We’re looking for blossoming young players. Those guys usually don’t get to free agency, so the pickings are slim”, Gruden said, adding “we’ll see where the market goes, but you don’t want to spend all the money you have on a few free agents. You want to try to keep some of that money available in case a trade might develop during the draft.” Gruden separately again emphasized the possibility of making a trade, saying “I think there’s a lot of potential for trades.”

Here’s more from around the league on this Friday night:

  • The Rams are making another change to their coaching staff. So far this offseason they’ve lost Zac Taylor to the Bengals, promoted Jedd Fisch and Shane Waldron, and hired Wade Phillips’ son Wes to be their tight ends coach. Now, they’re hiring away Eric Henderson from the Chargers to be their new defensive line coach, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Henderson had been serving as an assistant defensive line coach with the Chargers. Before that, he had been an assistant with Oklahoma State. The Rams haven’t made any announcement, but Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic was able to confirm that their incumbent defensive line coach, Bill Johnson, won’t be back with the team next year (Twitter link).
  • Browns receiver Antonio Callaway had his marijuana charge from last October dropped recently, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Callaway had maintained all along that he had no idea the small amount of marijuana was in his car, and apparently he was right. Callaway had previously tested positive at the combine before he was drafted, so his citation turned into somewhat of a big deal.
  • Earlier this week, we heard that the Chiefs intended to franchise tag pass-rusher Dee Ford. The team could be facing a fight with Ford though over which position he’ll be classified as, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Ford has played outside linebacker in old defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s scheme, but Ford is a pass-rusher first and foremost and will want to be classified as a defensive end for tagging purposes. As Florio points out, because the tag is valued based on what the top players at a given position are being paid, it’s the difference of several million dollars. Newly-hired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo runs a 4-3 defense so Ford will be a defensive end in 2019 anyway, but Florio writes that Spagnuolo intentionally declined to talk specifics about positions in his defense during recent comments to reporters, perhaps because of an impending battle between Ford and the club.

AFC Notes: Joseph, Bengals, Titans, Bolts

Johnathan Joseph played the past seven seasons of his career in Houston, and the soon-to-be 34-year-old cornerback would prefer to remain with the Texans. The UFA returning in 2018 would mark a 13th NFL season, but he’s not ready to retire. It doesn’t sound like Joseph certain he’ll be back in Houston, though. But Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes (on Twitter) he would like to be. “I’m just chilling. We’ll see how it goes,” Joseph said. “Obviously, I want to be here. That’s my first choice. We’ll see how it goes.” The Texans still have Kareem Jackson and Kevin Johnson under contract for 2018, the former on a $9MM cap number in the final year of his deal, and lost A.J. Bouye in free agency last year. Whether or not Joseph returns, the Texans will probably need to make another investment at this position in the near future.

Here’s the latest from the AFC as we enter Super Bowl week.

  • Mike Vrabel‘s Titans staff continues to fill out. Former Raiders wide receivers coach Rob Moore will trek east to coach Tennessee’s wideouts, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. Since the former All-Pro wideout’s career concluded, he’s coached at the high school, JUCO, Division I college and NFL levels — the previous five being with the Bills (2013-14) and Raiders (’15-’17). His main task will certainly involve Corey Davis‘ development. Moore helped bring Amari Cooper‘s career forward, but the top Raiders target struggled this season.
  • Organizational optimism centers around Jake Fisher as the Bengals‘ right tackle despite an inconsistent first year as a starter, Paul Dehner Jr. and Jim Owczarski of cincinnati.com report. However, Fisher’s counterpart, Cedric Ogbuehi, may not figure in as prominently. The Bengals reporters expect the team will decline Ogbuehi’s fifth-year option, and Marvin Lewis offered a sobering assessment of the 2015 No. 21 overall pick’s status. “Ced’s had two seasons, basically, and it’s just not been exactly where we need it to be,” Lewis said. “That’s held us back.”
  • Texas A&M is attempting to hire Chargers assistant defensive line coach Eric Henderson, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. He spent his first season with the Chargers last season under Gus Bradley. The former NFL defensive lineman and New Orleans native, though, is viewed as a plus recruiter — particularly in the south — and spent three seasons with Oklahoma State and in 2016 coached Texas-San Antonio’s defensive linemen.