A breakdown of the Cincinnati Bengals' 2019 free-agent signings.
Tyler Eifert, tight end
The Cincinnati Bengals agreed to terms with tight end Tyler Eifert on Friday, according to the NFL Network. Here’s a closer look at the tight end who will re-sign with Cincinnati after spending his entire career with the Bengals.
What it means: The Bengals lock up two of their tight ends in Eifert and C.J. Uzomah. Although Eifert spent most of the season injured, he can be a valuable asset when healthy. The Bengals seem to be taking one more chance that Eifert could make it through a season. If so, the two tight ends could be some of the most valuable pieces in the offense.
What’s the risk: Medium. Re-signing Eifert is always going to be a risk considering he’s spent more of the last three seasons on injured reserve than he has on the field. But Bengals player personnel director Duke Tobin said the offense was better with Eifert. That was clear after they struggled following Eifert’s broken ankle in September. If the Bengals got him for incentive-laden deal similar to the one they signed last year, it’s not a huge financial risk. If he gets hurt again, they should consider moving on and drafting a tight end.
B.W. Webb, cornerback
The Bengals signed B.W. Webb to a three-year deal on Thursday. Here’s a closer look at the cornerback who spent last season with the New York Giants.
What it means: The Bengals might be moving on from cornerback Darqueze Dennard. Although the Bengals made attempts to keep Dennard last year, he's still unsigned a few days into free agency. Webb, a journeyman cornerback, manned the slot for the Giants before they traded Eli Apple last year, and can also play outside. The move makes sense considering his relationship with former Giants defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo, now with the Bengals.
What’s the risk: Medium. It was clear the Bengals were much better with Dennard in the slot vs. when he was out with a shoulder injury, and Webb's career has had its ups and downs. Just 25, he's already had stints with eight teams. Webb had one interception and a forced fumble with 13 starts last year. Webb wasn't starting material for the first part of his career, and it's unclear if he's the answer now. The Bengals would be taking a step down if Webb's signing means Dennard is gone, but it's possible he could flourish under Anarumo for a second year.
C.J. Uzomah, tight end
The Bengals agreed to terms with Uzomah on a three-year deal more than $18 million on Monday, according to the NFL Network. Here’s a closer look at the tight end who will re-sign with the Bengals after being drafted there in 2015.
What it means: The Bengals lock up one of their three free-agent tight ends, and have somewhat of a safety net if they decide to pass on Tyler Eifert, who has spent most of the last several years injured. Uzomah became the go-to guy after injuries to Eifert and Kroft, and it's become clear that he can be a featured part of their offense going forward.
What’s the risk: Minimal. The Bengals gave Uzomah a solid deal but by locking him up early, they didn't get into a bidding war in a soft tight end market. Uzomah might not be a No. 1 tight end like Eifert, but he's done everything right and took huge strides this season despite playing injured. It's clear there's a lot of potential and upside for a player that's only 26-years-old.
Preston Brown, linebacker
The Bengals signed Brown on Wednesday. Here’s a closer look at the linebacker who re-signed with the Bengals after a one-year deal with them in 2018:
What it means: The Bengals seem more set on re-signing their own free agents than looking outside, re-signing Brown in addition to Bobby Hart, C.J. Uzomah and Brandon Wilson. While signing their own should be a priority, they also should consider some changes after finishing 6-10 and last in the league on defense. Brown played hurt for most of his shortened season, however, so it's hard to judge his performance off his one year in Cincinnati.
What’s the risk: The risk is less about Brown and more about the Bengals' philosophy of selecting bigger, heavier linebackers in a league that has increasingly focused more on the passing game. At the moment, it seems the Bengals are content with their same linebacking corps that struggled in 2018. That could change with the draft, but bringing back the same group could spell trouble for a unit that needs to upgrade in coverage.
Bobby Hart, right tackle
The Bengals agreed to terms with Hart on a three-year deal worth $21 million, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Here’s a closer look at the tackle who spent the previous season in Cincinnati.
What it means: The Bengals worked to fix their offensive line last season by trading for Cordy Glenn and drafting Billy Price. That doesn't appear to be the case this year. If they don't take a lineman high in this season's draft, it's clear they're OK with the status quo for now. That doesn't bode well considering Bengals quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Jeff Driskel were sacked a combined 37 times in 2018.
What’s the risk: High. Although the Bengals viewed Hart in a favorable light, he certainly didn't win over the fanbase with a team-high 14 penalties last season. The Bengals offensive line, particularly the right side, has been an issue in recent years, and paying Hart significant money seems counterproductive to fixing the problem. The numbers indicate that the Bengals view Hart as a starter for at least the next few years, despite his below-average season last year. It seems like the Bengals probably could've gotten him for a cheaper price if they had waited out the market.
John Miller, guard
The Bengals agreed to terms with Miller on Friday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Here’s a closer look at the guard who will sign a three-year deal with Cincinnati after spending the last four seasons with the Buffalo Bills.
What it means: This might be the only real change the Bengals make on the offensive line after re-signing right tackle Bobby Hart to a three-year deal. At minimum, Miller is competition for Alex Redmond, who struggled with penalties in 2018. He could also be considered the potential starter going into OTAs. Considering the offensive line's struggles last season, particularly on the right side, it's good to see the Bengals trying to improve there.
What’s the risk: Low. Miller had a poor 2017 season and was eventually benched, but seemed to improve in 2018. Although he's certainly had his ups and downs, competition for Redmond is certainly not a bad thing. While it's not a massive upgrade, the Bengals now have Redmond, Miller and Trey Hopkins capable of playing the right guard spot, which was one of the weakest positions on the line last year. After failing to address the tackle position, this certainly can't be seen as a bad move.