Bengals facing whirlwind as NFL lockout ends
The Associated Press
CINCINNATI — Who’s the quarterback? How do two arrests change the depth chart? And what do they do about Chad?
The end of the NFL’s lockout means the start of a whirlwind few weeks for the Cincinnati Bengals, who have more uncertainty than most teams because of recent arrests and a quarterback who wants out.
The Bengals can open training camp on Thursday. They didn’t reveal their plans or comment on the labor agreement reached Monday, choosing to wait a day before doing so. Players said Monday night that they hadn’t heard anything definitive from the team.
They’ll likely hold their first practice over the weekend at Georgetown College in Kentucky, which had everything ready to host a 15th Bengals training camp.
“We have to cram a bunch of things into a short amount of time,” quarterback Jordan Palmer said by phone. “I’m expecting everybody to be ready for it. We’ve been talking about how it’s going to go down to this.”
Now, the tough decisions begin.
Free agent running back Cedric Benson and cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones were arrested this month. Although both are fighting the charges, they could be subject to discipline from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Jones also is coming off neck surgery. Starting cornerback Johnathan Joseph is one of 14 Bengals eligible to become unrestricted free agents, so Cincinnati has to figure out that spot fast.
Don’t forget about Chad Ochocinco.
The flamboyant receiver is entering the final year on his deal. He spent the offseason on a promotional tour, trying out for a pro soccer team and riding a bull. The Bengals seemed to tire of his antics last season, when they finished 4-12, and picked receiver A.J. Green in the first round of the draft.
When the agreement was announced on Monday, Ochocinco tweeted: “No, I’m not happy yet. Still waiting on 1 more thing.”
That would be his release. How long the Bengals wait to let him go will be interesting.
Then, there’s the biggest question of all.
“There’s the quarterback situation,” Palmer said. “There are going to be a lot of things to determine.”
Carson Palmer told the Bengals in January that he wanted a trade and would retire rather than play another season in Cincinnati, which has only two winning records in the last 20 years. His decision came after coach Marvin Lewis agreed to stay despite no promises of significant change from the front office.
Jordan Palmer, his younger brother, was the No. 2 quarterback last season. The Bengals drafted quarterback Andy Dalton in the second round as his eventual replacement. He hasn’t been able to work with the coaches because of the lockout, leaving him way behind in his development.
The offense is in flux overall, with new coordinator Jay Gruden going to more of a West Coast-style offense.
The front office will take the spotlight initially. Teams will have little time to make decisions on free agents, compressing what is normally several months of decisions into a few weeks.
“It will be kind of crazy,” said offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, the team’s player representative. “Nobody’s been in these waters before, with free agency and so forth. Things are going to open up. It will be an interesting two weeks.”
Tight end Reggie Kelly, one of the Bengals’ unrestricted free agents, expects a lot of quick signings. In previous years, free agents could visit various teams before choosing one. There won’t be time for all those trips this year.
“Guys may not get to visit teams they want to visit,” said Kelly, who would like to stay in Cincinnati. “Even GMs and owners may not have the time to bring in an extra guy to evaluate talent. They have to make a decision in a hurry.”