Bobby Hart got on the plane in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Monday night feeling like he did when he got drafted in the seventh round by the Giants four years ago. But now he's a ripe old 24, a veteran of four NFL seasons and the right tackle the Bengals believe can help the Zac Taylor Era get off on the right foot.
"I was telling my wife I feel like a rookie. I'm staring at my life straight ahead of me," said Hart, who signed his three-year deal Tuesday morning at Paul Brown Stadium. "I'm only 24, but with four years under my belt, the experiences I've had and to see what I've seen, I'm just ready to go out and try to accomplish my goals."
Taylor's new coaching staff has spent its first month sifting through college and pro tape at the direction of the player personnel department looking to get a feel for what the coaches want and new offensive line coach Jim Turner made it quite clear he'd like Hart. He liked how hard Hart played and how athletic he is.
There were moments Hart struggled. He allowed 10 sacks, according to Pro Football Focus, while leading the league with nine false starts. But who didn't struggle last season on an offense that lost quarterback Andy Dalton for the last five games, wide receiver A.J. Green for the last eight and tight end Tyler Eifert for the last 12?
Hart talked with Turner a few times and "we're on the same page. He's an enthusiastic coach and we're both ready to get rolling. He saw a lot of things he liked and there are somethings we can clean up."
"Just the athleticism to do the things we want to accomplish as an offense," Hart said of what Turner told him he liked. "Just willing to get after it. He could see the passion for the game on film, which to me is one of the biggest compliments someone could give. In this day and age a lot of people just play the game for a lot reasons. But just to know someone can watch your film and see that you love the game and it means a lot to you, that's an honor."
Hart said he talked "to everybody bouncing around a few ideas," before deciding to stick around. Turner. Taylor. Even his coach at Florida State, Jimbo Fisher, Turner's colleague at Texas A&M.
"It made sense," Hart said. "I'm excited to be back. I felt like Cincinnati was my home last year. People say it's a business but it's where I played football with these guys. Guys like Joe (Mixon) and Andy and A.J. They're my guys."
The new offense? The new regime? The new deal?
"I don't want to do any talking," Hart said. "I just want everybody to see what's going on with the hard work. You put the hard work in and the results show up, we'll know why."
View photos of Bobby Hart resigning with the Bengals and a look at some of his top images from the 2018 season.