Updated 10 p,m.
With the NFL meetings set to get underway this weekend, the Bengals head to Orlando, Fla., mulling some of the proposed rule changes as well as their next moves in shoring up the roster.
And one of those appears to be adding a veteran backup quarterback. Indications Wednesday night were that the club had talks percolating with Hue Jackson- veteran Jason Campbell and they may be mulling going with three quarterbacks for the first time since
Reports of a one-year agreement later surfaced Wednesday night, but it is believed the deal won't be finalized until Thursday afternoon pending details.
Reports on NFL.com floated Wednesday that the Bengals have interest in Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, but they’ve pretty much said any position is open after the first round of the draft. There is room for a veteran and a rookie behind Dalton if they go back to keeping three QBs like they did for several years.
Jackson, the Bengals’ new offensive coordinator, has been adamant in his support of Dalton. In Campbell, a veteran of 79 starts (32-47), they would be getting a seasoned reserve he knows. Campbell had the most victorious stretch of his career under Jackson in Oakland when he went 11-7 in 2010 (when Jackson was his offensive coordinator) and 2011 (when Jackson was his head coach).
Cleveland was the 6-5, 223-pound Campbell's last stop and the Bengals talked about his brains and mobility in the week leading up to Cincinnati's ’ 41-20 victory over his Browns at Paul Brown Stadium. Jackson, then the Bengals running backs coach, talked about how he used him in Oakland.
“He has great leadership. He'll take the cast of guys there and he'll get them to play well," Jackson said back in November. "Because he'll distribute the ball well, he'll manage the game, he'll make big throws, and he'll run with the ball, he's tough and he's smart.”
Jackson's November scouting report? Campbell's best attribute is his big arm."That's why he was playing for me," Jackson said. "He can throw it down the field. He's got a good arm, he's smart and he knows how to play the position."
On Wednesday the Bengals confirmed they hosted an unrestricted free agent in Broncos right end Robert Ayres Wednesday and media reports said they are scheduled to visit with another UFA in Giants wide receiver Louis Murphy later this week.
But the Bengals are going slowly with UFAs because their play time and salary counts in free-agent compensation, where 2015 draft picks are awarded in a balancing-act formula. Right now, with no UFAs signed, the Bengals potentially may get as high as a third-round pick for the loss of right end Michael Johnson to Tampa Bay and as high as a fourth-rounder for left tackle Anthony Collins’ move to the Buccaneers. Signing a UFA for more than the minimum salary would nix a high pick.
It’s believed the Bengals are combing the bulky list of players that have been released before and after free agency began last week, non-UFAs that wouldn’t count against the formula, such as Campbell, cut by Cleveland last week, and former Carson Palmer backup Ryan Fitzpatrick, cut by the Titans about the same time.
In the 6-2, 200-pound Murphy they have another guy that worked with Jackson. Murphy hasn’t done much the past two seasons with 31 catches in 30 games for the Panthers and Giants, but he’s apparently fast enough to renew Jackson’s interest.
Murphy, who can play all three receiver spots, had a career-high 41 catches and 609 yards for the Raiders in 2010.
The biggest deal on the table for the league isn’t even on the meeting’s agenda that was revealed by the NFL competition committee Wednesday in a conference call. The committee, chaired by Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and Falcons president Rich McKay, supports the idea of expanding the playoffs and it could still surface next week in some form.
It’s believed a plan that adds a post-season team to each the AFC and NFC is going to get passed for 2015; it’s just a matter of when. It’s an idea that Bengals president Mike Brown may end up backing because the revenue generated by the two extra playoff games would be shared equally among the 32 teams.
Another hot button topic, on-field slurs, also isn’t official anywhere at the meetings. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, a member of the competition committee, has indicated there isn’t going to be a specific rule proposed aimed at cutting down objectionable language and McKay and Fisher said Wednesday that the existing taunting rule already in the books is going to be a major point of emphasis next year. It’s going to start when officials visit camps this spring.
As for game-changing rules to be passed (24 owners have to agree), don’t look for a bunch of them next week when they get around to voting. The biggest move that appears to have a shot at getting done is the Patriots’ proposal of moving the extra-point back to the 25-yard line.
It’s unclear if the Bengals are going to support it. Brown may not think it goes far enough because in the past he has talked about rewarding a team seven points on a TD and then getting another play from scrimmage to tack on another point.
Last month Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons suggested the NFL take a page out of the NCAA rulebook and narrow the goalposts two feet on each side. On Tuesday McKay said the two most discussed options are moving the kick back to the 20 or 25, or the awarding of an automatic seven points.
But he said the narrowing of the goal posts has been discussed and is probably going to get more of a look when field goals become the topic and they no doubt will since he noted that percentage has ballooned from 59 percent to 86.6 percent in 44 years.
“There’s not enough momentum for this year, but there will be (future) discussions,’ said McKay of the skinny posts.
Yet it looks like the goal posts are going to get five feet taller above the crossbar in an effort to better gauge those shaky field goals, thanks to another Patriots proposal. That comes five years after Bengals kicker Shayne Graham’s slider enraged Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in overtime.
Washington proposed another major special teams change, but moving the kickoff up to the 40-yard line three years after they moved it from the 30 to the 35 doesn’t look like it’s going to get much traction.
Other proposals that may get deep-sixed are abolishing preseason overtime, raising the number of active players to 49 instead of 46 for any game not on a Sunday or Monday (excluding the first weekend of the regular season) and two different proposals that would make personal foul penalties and everything but scoring plays eligible for instant replay.
But a new wrinkle to instant replay may get passed. The referee would be allowed to consult with the NFL officiating department stationed at a New York City command center during replay reviews. One thing they’ll be able to review if, as expected the NaVorro Bowman Proposal passes, is the recovery of a loose ball like the one that got kicked around in the NFC title game. Also expected to pass is allowing pass interference to be called within a yard of the line of scrimmage.