Hobson's Choice: Adams a revolutionary signing

Why would you call Sam Adams the biggest free-agent acquisition in Bengals history? I think he'll be a decent add, but the best ever?

C'mon, the guy is 33 years old and I'd argue that Kitna might have been the most significant considering how he helped with Carson's development.

And what about a guy like a Charles Woodson out there? I think we should still be looking at the secondary because that's where we got beat last year in critical situations, not to mention Tory James is no spring chicken... Do you really see Adams playing to a Pro-Bowl level next year? Guys tend to tail off severely in their mid-30's don't they?**--Eric, Denver

ERIC:**
"Biggest," meaning at the time he was signed. Not "best," five years after he signed. That has yet to be proven in that comfy armchair stuffed with hindsight. I also said, "arguably," so let's argue. This is why I call Adams the Bengals' biggest free-agent acquisition ever: He's an elite player at what he does and is just one year removed from the Pro Bowl. So it's not a Richmond Webb-at-the-end type of deal.

They've been ripped for years for getting washed-up guys, or the Kitna-type signings, always settling for the second-tier-mid-level guy. Look, I love Kitna, but he's never gone to a Pro Bowl and Adams has been to three.

You can certainly make the argument that Adams is the best free agent they've signed at the time of the acquisition.

When they signed Kitna before the 2001 season, he had more career interceptions than touchdown passes, and he had just been benched in Seattle. Granted, Adams was relegated to backup duty halfway through last season in Buffalo, and he didn't see eye-to-eye with his coach, much like Kitna.

But, unlike Kitna, Adams arrives after being an integral part of a record-breaking and Super Bowl championship unit, and is one year removed from a big season in which he was a major factor in the Bills' playoff charge on a defense that finished second in the league.

Plus, put it in context. When they signed Kitna, the Bengals needed a veteran quarterback to right a sinking ship that had gone under with Akili Smith. It wasn't a Super Bowl move.

Most people think this Bengals team is close enough to win it all that only a few pieces are needed to put them over the top. A big run-stuffer is clearly one of those.

Look, I'm with you on Kitna. A very significant guy in Bengals history. (Remember that 4-3 start in '01 after the misery of '00?) But if Adams comes in here and plays like he has, it will be much more significant because it will take them further.

You can't argue the age thing as much as you could 10, even five years ago. And it depends on the position. You don't sign 33-year-old DBs (they didn't in Lawyer Milloy), linebackers, wide receivers, or running backs. But for the D-line and O-line, age isn't as much of a factor.

Cowboys D-Tackle La'Roi Glover made the Pro Bowl at 32 last year and just got a mega deal. Falcons tackle Rod Coleman, another Pro Bowler, turns 30 in training camp.

Chiefs offensive linemen Willie Roaf and Will Shields made the Pro Bowl again last year at 35 and 34, respectively.

And ask Bills linebacker Takeo Spikes if Sam can still play. From what people said, Spikes wasn't happy they let him go.

Charles Woodson? The name just hasn't surfaced very much, which should say something. Here's a DB who turns 30 himself this season and hasn't been as accomplished the past three seasons as James has been in Cincinnati since coming out of Woodson's shadow in Oakland.

Woodson has a curious history with teammates and coaches that might make the carousel at CVG. All you can go on is that Bengals defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan held the same job in Oakland, and he doesn't appear to be standing on any tables for him because he hasn't even been in here for a visit yet.

Now, no question Woodson is a fine player, and he might be an option if it gets late and he's still looking. But he doesn't seem to be a fit economically or age wise because you make a good point on James' age (33 in May).

Which is why it wouldn't be surprising if they dealt with that in the draft. There always seem to be some good cornerbacks floating around at No. 24. They passed on one last year in Chris Gamble. They may not do it again.

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