Bengals Rumors

Some Bengals Rookies On Bubble

  • Only six of the past 25 players the Bengals have selected in drafts’ final three rounds have failed to make the 53-man roster as rookies, but Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes some Bengals 2018 picks are on the bubble. The Bengals have combined to make 11 fifth-, sixth-, or seventh-round picks over the past two years, making some of these talents’ paths to the roster more difficult than they would be under normal circumstances. The team’s trio of 2018 fifth-rounders — cornerbacks Darius Phillips and Davontae Harris, and defensive lineman Andrew Brown — are potential roster cuts, per Dehner. The Bengals cut two rookie fifth-rounders last year, with one of those (Jake Elliott) resurfacing as the Eagles’ new kicker after opening the season on Cincy’s practice squad.
  • Additionally, rookie seventh-round wide receiver Auden Tate has a legitimate shot to make the Bengals’ roster, Jim Owczarski of the Inquirer writes. A slow 40-yard dash time (4.68 seconds) diminished Tate’s draft stock, making him one of the April event’s final picks, but the 6-foot-5 Florida State alum has emerged as a possible depth piece after a strong training camp. UDFA linebackers Chris Worley and Junior Joseph are also pushing to make Cincinnati’s roster, per Dehner.

Bengals To Release George Iloka

In a very surprising move, the Bengals are releasing veteran safety George Iloka, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter). Rapoport adds that the decision is a purely financial one, as Iloka has started every game he has played since 2013. Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network confirms as much, pointing out that Iloka was due $5.3MM in base salary and roster bonuses this season (Twitter link). The Bengals will absorb a dead money hit of $2.1MM but will save $4.1MM against the cap in the process.

Garafolo adds that he expects Iloka to have a new job soon, and plenty of writers are already speculating that the Cowboys could be a fit. Others, however, are more skeptical. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, for instance, notes that all of Iloka’s former coordinators/positional coaches are now with teams who are set at safety, and given the abysmal market for free agent safeties this offseason, Barnwell believes a modest one-year deal could be in the cards for Iloka (Twitter link).

As Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets, the Bengals have frequently spoken this offseason about their desire to trim payroll and about their safety depth. With Iloka gone, it appears that impressive rookie Jessie Bates III, the No. 54 overall pick in this year’s draft, will become the team’s starting free safety.

Iloka, a 2012 fifth-round choice out of Boise State, played in seven games during his rookie campaign but has been a fixture in the Bengals’ starting lineup ever since. He has been quite durable as well, as he has played in 76 of a possible 80 regular season games and all three of the team’s playoff contests since 2013. He made the move from strong safety to free safety in 2016, and while he has not been much of a play-maker at either position — he has nine interceptions and zero sacks in his career — he is a solid overall player who would be an upgrade for a number of teams. He signed a five-year, $30MM pact with Cincinnati in March 2016 after a very good 2015 campaign.

Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com, though, writes that Iloka’s on-field play did factor into his release, as Cincinnati was apparently unhappy with how he performed last season. He will have a chance to prove them wrong on another club.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Bengals, Lewis, Eagles, Foles, Chiefs, AAF

The Bengals are counting on some new coaching roles making a major difference this season. Marvin Lewis survived another year on the hot seat but knew he would need to rearrange his staff after another disappointing season. Teryl Austin will succeed now-Raiders DC Paul Guenther in running Cincinnati’s defense, and Lewis made Bill Lazor the full-time OC. The team jettisoned longtime offensive line coach Paul Alexander as well, with other new staffers coming in to help a team that’s fallen in the AFC hierarchy the past two years.

I made up my mind I wanted to coach,” Lewis said, via Jonathan Jones of SI.com. “So, do I want to go start over somewhere where I don’t know the people or coach these group of guys downstairs that no one else has? That’s an easy decision. You look at what’s open and these are the best players. And that’s what you want.

I knew we were going to have a lot of change on the coaching staff. I knew I had to make changes and those are the things that (owner) Mike (Brown) and I had to discuss. I had to make changes on people that had been with me for a long time and had been friends, and it’s difficult.”

Lewis added that he didn’t want to make wholesale roster changes, pointing out the number of Pro Bowlers still on the team, but the Bengals aren’t receiving much attention as a contender this season. They’re hoping these staff moves can re-route them back to the AFC playoffs.

Here’s the latest from the football landscape:

  • The Eagles received a scare Thursday night when Super Bowl MVP and temporary starting quarterback Nick Foles went down with a shoulder injury. The shoulder sprain Foles suffered is believed to be a minor malady and not one that will require a significant rehab effort, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. It’s looking like it will come down to the wire on whom the defending Super Bowl champions will start at quarterback on opening night, with Carson Wentz unlikely to play in the preseason. The Eagles not having Foles would throw a major wrench in their plans, despite third-stringer Nate Sudfeld having a nice offseason.
  • Steven Nelson will be a full-time outside cornerback this season, Lynn Worthy of the Kansas City Star notes. This change emerged in the offseason, one that featured breakout slot man Kendall Fuller’s arrival, but the Chiefs are evidently committed to trying Nelson – their most frequent slot corner over the past two seasons – as an outside man. The 2015 third-round pick is entering a contract year. While Kansas City has looked at other corners this month – Bashaud Breeland and Orlando Scandrick – the trio of Fuller, Nelson and David Amerson remains atop the depth chart. Nelson did leave the Chiefs’ game Friday night with a head injury, however.
  • Former Jets second-round pick Stephen Hill and ex-Titans backup quarterback Zach Mettenberger are two of the notable new names signed on to play for the Alliance of American Football. The AAF announced 100 more players will join. Ex-Rams running back Daryl Richardson, former Saints and Jets ball carrier Khiry Robinson, linebacker Deontae Skinner and running back Storm Johnson are among the new contingent. Former Giants and Ravens safety Will Hill and veteran kicker Nick Novak, who was with the Chargers last season, were among the first wave to sign.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/13/18

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Signed: DT Simeyon Robinson

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans 

Kansas City Chiefs

Minnesota Vikings

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Signed: C Oni Omoile
  • Waived/Injured: OL Parker Collins

Washington Redskins

  • Signed: WR Dan Williams III

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/10/18

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Cincinnati Bengals

Kansas City Chiefs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/4/18

Today’s minor moves:

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Los Angeles Rams

  • Waived/injured: LB Garrett Sickels
  • Waived from injured reserve: WR Aaron Lacombe

Seattle Seahawks

  • Signed: DE Ricky Ali’ifua
  • Waived: C Marcus Henry, DE Eddy Wilson

Tennessee Titans

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/2/18

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Waived: DE Ja’Von Rolland-Jones

Dallas Cowboys

Indianapolis Colts

  • Signed: G Nick Callender

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

  • Waived/injured: G Nate Theaker

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Did Brandon LaFell Request Release?

  • Brandon LaFell‘s agent says that his client asked to be released from the Bengals, but a team source says that the decision was not made based on LaFell’s desire to play elsewhere, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com tweets. It sounds like the source had not heard of any such request by LaFell, but even if the wide receiver asked to be let go, it’s doubtful such a request would have been granted anyway. The source told Terrell that the move was made to give the club’s young receivers more reps.

Bengals Release WR Brandon LaFell

The Bengals released wide receiver Brandon LaFell, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). LaFell’s agent tells Garafolo that the receiver has been pushing for his release “for some time now” and is grateful to have been freed from his contract. 

The transaction will allow LaFell, a vested veteran, to sign with any team. As the Patriots get set to move on from Jordan Matthews, one can’t help but wonder if a reunion could be in the cards for LaFell. Then again, Thursday’s signing of Eric Decker could take LaFell out of consideration.

LaFell has been the Bengals’ No. 2 WR for the last two years, but his production tailed off a bit last season. After compiling 64 catches for 862 yards and six touchdowns in 2016, LaFell had just 52 grabs for 548 yards and three scores last year.

Meanwhile, he started “feeling the heat” from other wideouts in camp this summer, according to coach Marvin Lewis. That includes 2017 first-round pick John Ross, which is good news for the Bengals but probably meant a reduced role for LaFell.

The Bengals appear set to head into 2018 with A.J. Green and Ross as their top receivers. After that, they have a young group pushing for playing time including Tyler Boyd, Josh Malone, Cody Core, rookie Auden Tate, and Alex Erickson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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