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Hobson's Choice: Camping Out With Bengals

Dax Hill: Swingman?
Dax Hill: Swingman?

Hi Geoff, I'm a longtime Bengals fan (Wilmington College grad). I was hoping the Bengals would find an additional sledge hammer type back during the draft. Mixon is awesome but help would be great. Thanks so much Geoff. Greg Carroll, Centerville, OH

GREG: Thanks for your support. Many fond memories of typing in Pickett Hall during double sessions. 

I actually think they've already got that hammer in Samaje Perine. He's not Mixon, but his former Oklahoma teammate is a big solid back in his own right. He's 5-11, 240 pounds and is an excellent north-and-south runner. 

In the last two seasons here he's averaged 4.6 yards per 118 carries and in five games has carried at least 10 times for 4.9 per run. Perine can get them through a month if needed and hopefully not because Mixon is one of the most underrated players in the league. So, I think they're fine with Mixon, Perine and Chris Evans because they're probably only going to keep three running backs on the active roster.

Due to the depth on this roster, any cut candidates that would surprise people? Perhaps Shelvin if he doesn't get his body in shape this off-season? Or Brandon Wilson if someone emerges as returner after adding two safeties in the draft?*

It appears the team is high on Zach Carter, but are you expecting they add a veteran defensive tackle such as (Hicks, Goldmann, etc.) to help fill the void left by Ogunjobi, bc if Hill was to go down, we have no interior rush? Jake Ward, Fort Loramie, OH

JAKE: They remain hopeful for safety Brandon Wilson and defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin. Shelvin has to show he can adjust to the pros and Wilson does have to return to form, two unsettled questions.

Even though they have added three versatile defensive backs via the draft. I still think Wilson makes it at safety because you can keep four safeties with Jessie Bates III, Vonn Bell, fifth-rounder Tycen Anderson and Wilson and you can put Dax Hill as a swing guy. And safety Mike Thomas is fighting for a roster spot, too. They could keep 11 DBs, or you could count Hill as one of the six cornerbacks but he's a guy that can also swing to safety. Remember, when Wilson tore his ACL, he was a Pro Bowl caliber player as a kick returner AND gunner, so let's see how he comes back before dismissing him.

I do think there'll be good interior offensive lineman let go who's a surprise now but won't be after the third preseason game given how he plays in the practice games and I have no idea who that is at the moment.

And count me as being surprised if specialists Kevin Huber and Clark Harris get cut. The heir apparents can marinate on the practice squad, although I guess rookie Cal Adomitis is a fine candidate to get plucked off waivers since he was the No. 1 long snapper at his spot in the draft and that's a big factor. And as the extensions loom for the three Pro Bowl-level guys from the 2020 draft class (Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins, Logan Wilson), every salary counts.

As for those veteran D-tackles, I believe people at any position in the secondary free agent market are in play but quarterback, yet the price is going to have to come down. They already gave B.J. Hill a big number to rush inside and he joins three other D-line starters with big numbers. That's four starters all having eight-figure contracts making them among the highest paid fronts in football. But, yes, I would imagine they're looking there to add depth to the three technique and you probably can't rule out Larry Ogunjobi himself as a possibility.

Would like James Casey's thought on Scotty Washington learning to be a tight end. Stephen Ogden, Anniston, AL

STEPHEN: Got to love Casey, the Bengals tight ends coach sufficiently old school enough that every time you ask him how he's doing, he always barks something along the lines of, "Never been lousier."

A former player who is a really fine coach, Casey has been kind enough to give us this assessment on Washington, an undrafted free agent wide receiver out of Wake Forest in 2020:

"He's re-branded himself a tight end and we're going to work with him. He's a big fast, strong guy. There's a lot of nuance to playing tight end. Really, after the quarterback, the tight end has to know the most. He has to learn to block in both the pass game and the run game and he has to have good enough technique to block guys like Myles Garrett on the edge and in the run game you're not just going down there blocking the 'C' Gap. It will be a process, the kind of thing he just has to get better at every day. He really looks good with the weight he's put on and I'm excited to work with him."

Washington has passed the first test. The scouts also like how Washington has come back bulked up and they think he looks strong. They've got him listed at 6-5, 247 after he was listed at 217 pounds last year going into his second training camp.

Bengals president Mike Brown is a guy who has always been on the lookout for different and unique kinds of athletes in the NFL and college basketball to try at tight end. You never know when the next Antonio Gates is coming out of nowhere, so it will be a good training camp mystery.

Thanks for your tireless coverage the Bengals! What are your thoughts on what will happen with the Big Three from the draft class of '20: Burrow (extension after year three), Tee (Franchise Tag?), and Logan Wilson (extension)? Kurt Reynolds, Thief River Falls, MN

KURT: Thank you for your tireless reading and for writing in again. That's a pretty interesting take. I'm not sure if you gave wide receiver Tee Higgins the tag because he has the same agent as Bates, but each case is different and I don't think you can assume anything.

No doubt in my mind they go after all three guys as quickly as they can and try to get all in the fold long term by Opening Day, 2023. Take a look at their track record on franchise quarterbacks. The only challenge of the trio is trying to figure out how to fit both Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase in the receiver slot. I do think it's too early to say you can't do both.

Question is… why have so many fans and seemingly the media too given up on Jackson Carmen? … some calling him a bust… Seems that injuries and a change of position (and sides) should buy him a little space. Dan Danner, Arlington, VA

DAN: Couldn't agree more. The biggest cliché (because its true) is many players take their biggest jump between year one and year two. The Bengals have had their share of draft picks who had slow starts to their careers, were labeled busts and went on to be good, solid players. The offensive linemen I'm thinking about here is 2009 first-round pick Andre Smith, and how about 2011 fourth-rounder Clint Boling, too? Not that Boling struggled, but he didn't play much his rookie year and then went on to start for seven years as a quality pro on four playoff teams.

I also think Carman showed late in the season why they took him in the second round in 2021. He has all the tools with size and movement. You don't anchor Clemson's offensive line without that. Plus, unlike Andre, he didn't have the luxury of playing in the nascent days of social media, another reason why the criticism seems to be an avalanche of negativity.

I think Isaac Curtis should be the next Bengals Ring of Honor member. How about yourself? John Johannesen, Jacksonville, FL

JOHN: I think every guy on the ballot deserves the honor to be bestowed on the second class this upcoming season. When it comes to Curtis, you know how I feel if you've been reading. Not only the most underrated player in Bengals history, but Sir Isaac is one of the most underrated players in the history of the NFL. A true game-changer on Sunday and in the rule book for all time.

Hi Hobs. love the forum. I'm under the understanding the franchise tag pays you an average of the top four guys at your position makes. If true, why would a player balk at the tag? It seems like they'd like it. Where am I going wrong? John Belanger, Fairfield, OH

JOHN: Thanks very much for reading and sending one in.

Actually, the franchise tag is derived by averaging the top five salaries by position for the previous league year. I hear you. If you get tagged, you're probably going to go back on the market after already making a haul in one year.

The team believes it has made real efforts to extend Bates, but it is the player's right to take financial chances. Some players do, while others look at the security end of it. Do you take a risk of a higher possible upside, or do you accept a life-changing contract? Bates and his agent seem to be thinking that he plays well this year, gets the franchise pay this year, and then hits the market again next year with $13 million in his pocket. Sam Hubbard signed the big contract and put the matter behind him. Same draft class; different approaches.

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