View Full Version : Hobson's Choice

06-06-2014, 08:10 AM
The fans want to know and so do I. So I threw in a question this week:

With Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis inferring over the weekend in his interview with Don Banks of SI.com that Jay Cutler’s $18 million per year deal is holding up the Andy Dalton negotiations, where does that put things? Butch Hobson, Framingham, Mass.

BUTCH: With Marv unburdening himself a little bit, that indicates to me the sides are a lot closer than they were a month ago, but not there yet, obviously. Dalton’s been solid but not spectacular and that why’s it’s a Rubik’s Cube of a problem contractually.

Both sides have reasonable arguments for Dalton to get everything from Cutler money to about $12 million per year. In order to compromise, the Bengals have to realize paying a quarterback that is even 0-3 in the postseason has gone through the roof and the meter keeps ticking. Plus, he’s got some nice numbers that deserve to be paid.

And Dalton’s people have to realize he’s been the quarterback of a team led by defense the past three years and there’s a ton of money sitting on the table for a kid scheduled to make $1 million this year. It sounds like they’re headed down the path of compromise and a big reason is going to be how the man in the corner office covets quarterbacks and stability, and not necessarily in that order.

That’s why I had to laugh when NFL.com, in calling Bengals president Mike Brown “intractable,” observed he’s “reluctant to shell out franchise-quarterback money for a signal-caller who has laid three eggs in the past three postseason.”

Heck, Mike Brown is no doubt a big reason the gap has closed. He loves paying quarterbacks. He made Carson Palmer the highest-paid player ever before he even played in a playoff game. And 10 years before that, Brown made Jeff Blake one of the highest paid quarterbacks in 1995 even though he had just 13 NFL starts for a team nowhere near the postseason.

If he’s intractable, it’s not on the subject of quarterbacks and stability. Lewis’ comments and Brown’s philosophy make you think it’s going to get done.

Very little is written about Onterio McCalebb. He has elite speed and is an intriguing dark horse to make a push as a kick returner. Any thoughts on your part about the likelihood of them going with a player like McCalebb over Tate as a kick returner due to the fact that he is younger? Thanks for your time. Andy Linneman, Burlington, KY

ANDY: McCalebb spent all last season on the practice squad after he switched from running back to cornerback after a productive career at Auburn. He’s small _ 5-10 about a buck 70 _ but he’s here because of that 4.34-second 40 he ripped off at the 2013 scouting combine. He’s best known for being tutored in the offseasons by Bengals great Ken Riley, one of the all-time cornerbacks that lives near McCalebb in Florida and the man that made the switch from college quarterback when the Bengals drafted him out of Florida A&M in 1969.

You’re exactly right. McCalebb, 24, is intriguing and he’s a longshot. A real longshot. With five first-round corners already lined up, he’d have to grab that sixth and last roster spot with his special teams play. Several things would have to happen.

McCalebb would have to be much more sure of himself returning kicks than he was last preseason, when he had three returns for a 25.3-yard average. There is no indication they are going to ask him to returns punts, which is more about instinct than speed.

So in order to send wide receiver Brandon Tate packing, they’d have to feel good enough about their cornerbacks to make Adam Jones the punt returner. Plus, McCalebb, who is only two years younger than Tate, would have to beat out such corner candidates as Chris Lewis-Harris and sixth-rounder Lavelle Westbrooks, guys that have tons more experience at the position.

McCalebb would also seem to be a candidate to replace wide receiver Andrew Hawkins as a gunner on punt coverage. But he’s already got a rookie in front of him in that spot in seventh-rounder James Wright that has already excelled in that job on a big stage at LSU.

The Bengals love how McCalebb has attacked the position switch and he is so admirable because he basically raised himself. But a lot is going to have to go his way during final cuts for a true 100-to-1 shot.

Why not pick up Ed Reed? Still has a fair amount left in the tank. Could either start or get plenty of playing time. Can still make plays. We could use some safety help. Who better to teach our DBs than ed reed? Frank Dalessandro, Burlington, KY

FRANK: One telling sign why not is the guy that coached Reed last season in the Houston secondary, Vance Joseph, is now coaching in the Bengals secondary. When Joseph had his chance to get a safety back in March, he jumped all over the other free-agent Texan, Danieal Manning, and not Reed. It makes you wonder. That, and nobody else is knocking down the door, either.

No question Reed is a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer and he’s got seven picks in the last two years. But, remember, one of the pre-draft themes was how old the Bengals are getting in the secondary (safety Reggie Nelson turns 31 this season). It was surprising enough that they signed Manning, turning 32 in August. But he’s still four years younger than Reed.

Maybe this will be a moot point by the time your feature appears, but what gives with Dennard's contract? The people before and after him have signed , and the money is slotted so what's the holdup? Any chance Dalton and the Bengals meet in the middle with $15 million with incentives? John Hambrecht, Gainesville, Texas

JOHN: The best guess here is that one of the details in those two contracts slotting Dennard didn’t sit well with one of the two sides. Whatever it is, a detail is no doubt holding it up because the money is already set by the CBA. It won’t be long now.

That’s a nice number you got there at $15 million. That would seem to make sense. I still think a big part of the deal is going to be a schedule of milestones. You play like Cutler, we’ll pay you like Cutler. You win the Super Bowl, we’ll pay you like Flacco. Of course, don’t play like Sanchez or Schaub.

Rey Maualuga is looking for an encore after coming off his best season.

Do you think vinnie Rey is the better option at middle LB,thus making Rey Maualuga trade bait? Possibly Dallas would be interested. James Johnson, Springfield, OH

JAMES: Maualuga is clearly the Bengals guy. Trades for starters very rarely happen. They love Vinny. He’s fast, but even though he’s undersized he makes up for it with his smarts and desire. But he’s a college free agent and Maualuga was once projected in the top ten. He’s big and fast and coming off his best season.

How much impact will Lamur's return have on the Bengals defense? Jeffrey Kulovitz, San Antonio, Texas

JEFFREY: Incalculable. They’re getting a long (6-4), lean (245 pounds), speedster (4.5ish, 46ish in the 40) that can wreak havoc on all three downs. You figure he’s the starting SAM backer as well as one of the two starting nickel backers with Vontaze Burfict. He’s that blueprint hybrid player that can cover as well as blitz as a former college safety.

He gives them speed and length they just didn’t have last year. Can he be the Cam Chancellor of linebackers? They’re hoping his speed and size can make him kind of a Carlos Dunlap at linebacker, a guy that always seems to force turnovers.

I believe that Cincinnati can run the ball like San Francisco and Seattle and if that happens, I believe Dalton will look more consistent like Russell Wilson. But, for all this to happen we'll need a good O-line. Who do you see starting training camp at the starting positions and do you think the unit will be good enough to achieve that kind of success on the ground? Jonathan Jeffries, Huber Heights, OH

JONATHAN; Couldn’t agree with you more. That’s my stat from last year. Dalton chucked the ball 586 times while a Seattle team with an outstanding defense didn’t let Wilson get out of hand with 407 attempts.

The Bengals have two outstanding run blockers at tackles in Andrew Whitworth on the left and Andre Smith on the right. Right guard Kevin Zeitler also makes his hay in the running game. As for how they line up at center and left guard at the beginning of training camp, it may depend on how fourth-round pick Russell Bodine looks at center the rest of the spring camps.

Center Mike Pollak is resting his knee for training camp and Bodine and Trevor Robinson have been running with the 1s. They could start camp with Bodine at center and put Pollak at left guard with Clint Boling (ACL) expected back later in camp.

Of course, it would be a bit unnerving to start a rookie center in Baltimore against Haloti Ngata and the men on Sept. 7. But then, all the more reason to run it. The thing Bodine gives them is the physicality and strength they need to pound it like they say they want to pound it. How long it takes them to get some chemistry may be a question, but going by the numbers it’s a line that fits with a smash-mouth style.

Is Cobi Hamilton expected to make the roster and contribute this upcoming season?
David Brothers, Harveysburg, OH

DAVID: Nothing is expected. Hamilton looks to be in a roster scrum with four-year veteran Ryan Whalen and seventh-rounder James Wright for that last spot at receiver. Not known as a special teams maven, Hamilton is going to have to excel in the preseason kicking game to make it.

Did Brent Musburger order season tickets yet? Seriously, how much are the Bengals going to miss Mike Zimmer? Can this defense maintain it's standing with the new coordinator? Greg Dressman, Florence, KY

GREG: Do the Bengals lead the league in beauty queens? They have a former Miss Louisiana in Melissa Whitworth and a former Miss Alabama in Katherine Webb. Access Hollywood, I would think, has applied for a season-long media pass and I hope I’m kidding.

Zimmer had such a forceful personality and an eye for detail…sure it’s a blow. The thing I think they’ll miss is how comfortable he was coaching all positions. He’d get in a defensive end’s face on rush technique before wandering over to the secondary and get on the corners about flipping their hips.

But Zimmer’s loss is cushioned by his replacement. Paul Guenther was literally in his ear for years on Sundays from the press box while Zimmer patrolled the sidelines. Guenther not only knows the defense in and out, but as the former linebackers coach he knows the personnel as well as anyone. The big thing the Bengals have going for them is continuity on all three fronts: Scheme, coaching, and players. Plus, their two new defensive assistants, Joseph and linebackers coach Matt Burke, have excellent reps around the NFL.

Yes, they’ll miss Zimmer. But they shouldn’t somersault out of the top ten, either.

Mike Pollak's knee should be ready to go for training camp, but will he be at guard or center?

What have the Bengals done, above and beyond all the other 2013 playoff teams, that fans can look to, with expectations of better results this season? They lost both coordinators and have two key defensive players hoping to come back from devastating injuries, plus lost big talent in free agency. What hope do we have? Kurt Messer, Hilliard, OH

KURT: None of those things are going to impact how the Bengals fare in 2014. Let’s face it. This season isn’t going to be decided by some big free agent or if Geno Atkins is going to be ready for the first camp practice or the 15th camp practice. (We already know Leon Hall will be ready practice 1.)

How does the offense play? That’s it. That’s what counts this year.

Does Dalton cut down his turnovers? Does the running game take the heat off Dalton and the defense? To that end, they made some pretty good upgrades in the draft (Bodine and Jeremy Hill) and the change in offensive coordinator should help Dalton’s numbers, according to Hue Jackson’s track record. Everybody wants a major move. But here’s a team that won 11 games and lost two starters. It’s football. Not baseball where you can wheel in a left-handed bat or arm in September. To me, this is a coach’s offseason tweaking the blueprint.

Hey Hobson! How much of a competition is there between Vincent Rey and Rey Maualuga? V. Rey played great last season but I've also heard that the coaches were just experimenting. Luke Pounds, New Madison, OH

LUKE: See above. There’s always competition but Maualuga is the starter, cut-and-dried. Vinny is invaluable as a backup special teamer and he did a great job playing for Maualuga when he was hurt last year. But that was for only a month. And because of his size, Vinny is probably a better fit outside.

The roster looks good! Just wondering who are the most likely guys to get that third starting LB spot? Jon Davis, Brandon, FL

JON: Looks like Emmanuel Lamur is the leader at SAM with young guns Jayson DiManche, Sean Porter, and Marquis Flowers trying to be the backup.

I thought when Gio Bernard was drafted, it was said that he was a pretty good kick/punt returner. Do you think he'd ever be put into the returner position or is that too risky for a primary RB like him? Thanks. Who Dey Colin Madigan, Westerville, OH

COLIN: Giovani Bernard is now your starting running back. If they could put him in the Popemobile in the preseason, it wouldn’t be safe enough. May he never even drop back to catch a punt in practice even for just the heck of it.


06-10-2014, 12:31 PM
Trivia question: Which of Cleveland's 13 starting QBs against the Marvin Lewis Bengals has re-surfaced in Cincinnati?
Who will be the starting QBs on November 6th (Thursday Night Football) when the Browns come to Paul Brown Stadium? a. Dalton vs Hoyer b. Dalton vs. Manziel c. McCarron vs Manziel d. McCarron vs Hoyer e. None of the above. V Raju, Loveland, OH
V: How come no E) or F), Jason Campbell (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/jason-campbell/4fe9cf6a-2619-4545-aaff-26bb862f739f/) vs. Manziel or Hoyer? Of the 13 Browns quarterbacks who have started in 22 games against Marvin Lewis’ Bengals, Campbell is the only one that has turned up in Cincinnati when he surfaced back in March to back up Dalton.
Well, he won’t be starting against his old mates. McCarron won’t be expanding his reality TV role, either. The storyline here is two Lone Star State QBs in their first battle for supremacy of Ohio.

The answer is B.
If the Bengals thought they needed the draft to replace Dalton at some point this year, they would have taken a quarterback in the first or second round and wouldn’t have signed Campbell so early in free agency. Given that they waited until the fifth round tells me they view McCarron as a potential backup who needs a few seasons to develop into a No. 2 and signed Campbell to be the bridge backup for this season.
McCarron isn’t a factor this year. He may be down the road. I like his intangibles and his size, but he needs to get NFL strong. But that’s for later. Right now in ’14 he’s holding the clipboard. Dalton is their guy. The only quarterback controversy is surrounding Dalton’s contract and that will have nothing to do with playing time.
The big question I’ve got on Manziel is will he be healthy on Nov. 6? He plays such a non-NFL game out of the pocket and he’s not a very big guy. When he does that first leap-and-look-one-way-and-throw-the-other, the werewolves are going to be out for body shots and center-field interceptions.
All together now. The 13 Browns starting QBs vs. Lewis since Sept. 21, 2003 (yes, in order):
Tim Couch, Jeff Garcia, Kelly Holcomb, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Ken Dorsey, Brady Quinn, Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy, Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer, Jason Campbell.
What three things that you will be looking for in training camp that will or will not make you a believer that this team will be ready to make the next step this season? Jonathan Jeffries, Huber Heights, Ohio.
JONATHAN: A plus turnover differential, an average of 4.5 yards per carry rushing, and an average of three yards or less defending the run. Of course, it’s ridiculous on my part to attach any stats at all to the preseason because the starters and regulars rarely play. But if they win three or four games that would indicate their depth is as good as people say.
I just think those three stats are important in the mindset of Life with Hue and Life After Zim. They’ve done well stopping the run, but they’ve almost been as bad in the playoffs defending it as the offense has been as a whole in the postseason. And if you thought the AFC North was a bloodbath now, how about the Steelers lining up with big back Le’Veon Bell and Gio-like back Dri Archer and trying to balance out their offense so it is more smashmouth?

I'm on the fence when it comes to Dalton. They are LOADED offensively, and seem pretty stout defensively. I know he's maturing, but he really is hot or cold, and you can tell from the start of the game which it's going to be. If things start off badly this season, say 1-3, do you see Marvin pulling him? Thanks, Chris Maushart, Cincinnati
CHRIS: You mean, turn to Jason Campbell or AJ McCarron (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/aj-mccarron/07bcb29c-9b5e-429d-b249-67c0c2cc63f7/)? I would say California Chrome owner Steve Coburn has a better shot of being Sports Illustrated’s Man of the Year than Lewis pulling Dalton.
Geoff, As a fan of the Bengals since their inception, it's good to see the team becoming better and more competitive each season. Sure, there's setbacks, but so what. Personally, I'm glad Gruden's gone--I think he abandoned the run game too soon in too many games-- but happy to see Jackson in there. Now, how about telling me the skinny on Rex Burkhead (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/rex-burkhead/215b64a4-2717-420c-8fb4-7a8d117bd57e/) and his chances this season? Thanks so much. Blair Schofield, New Britain, Conn.
BLAIR: Jackson likes Burkhead a lot and I think he’s one of the many reasons why it’s such a tough call forBenJarvus Green-Ellis (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/benjarvus-green-ellis/d809b273-f3c9-414d-b9b0-3fd185b8e017/) to be on the Opening Day roster. Burkhead, the 2013 sixth-round pick from Nebraska, was active for only one game as a rookie but he showed them last preseason and in practice that he’s faster and more athletic than you think.

Plus, he’s got terrific hands and gives it up on special teams. He’s no Giovani Bernard (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/giovani-bernard/69ef7ebd-86c9-4f7f-831a-dda8c8bf1737/), but this is a guy that can play in games and help you in solid, unspectacular fashion. That said, it’s going to be hard for him to get on the field with Bernard and Jeremy Hill (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/jeremy-hill/a8435a7b-a76b-42a6-98c6-a2a3fd8e62e0/) and a lot depends on the game day active list. But I’d be surprised if he didn’t have more of a role than he did last year.
Marvin Jones (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/marvin-jones/1e8a8414-cc83-4d5e-a61a-9236316539e4/) is still going to get his share of TDs even though the Bengals are committed to the run.
A two parter: 1. The fan poll on touchdown catches: Wouldn't it be logical that the TEs would make more TD's than the WRs if there is an emphasis now on the running game 2. Rey and Rey: What's the potential for Rey in running situations and Vinnie in 3rd and long? That might even spell Rey a bit unless we get a no-huddle? Lynn Marshall, Cincinnati
LYNN: The great misnomer about Hue Jackson’s clarion call to emphasize the running game is that it’s going to reduce the passing game. Just the opposite. On paper the hope is it is going to make it more explosive and with Jackson a big believer in vertical routes, wide receivers A.J. Green (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/aj-green/d1e7b054-2722-4a10-9dad-687267489bd5/) and Marvin Jones should get more chances to catch touchdowns and not less.
Pass attempts, TD passes and interceptions should theoretically be down with the hope the run jacks up completion percentage and yards per attempt in a more efficient passing game.
Green and Jones are coming off a season they became the first tandem in Bengals history to have double-digit TD catches and they should lead the pack again simply because they’ll have the most chances.
As for linebackers Rey Maualuga (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/rey-maualuga/72e4f750-08d1-4fa5-abee-a5cfebe1389b/) and Vincent Rey (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/vincent-rey/5550e7d6-cb13-4ae1-8ae2-bb01fe4a7378/), they like Maualuga on run downs so he primarily plays first and second downs and not third down. The nickel package at backer for those third-and-11s is left toVontaze Burfict (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/vontaze-burfict/941b89df-2666-4d9f-810e-9b889ba417eb/) and Emmanuel Lamur (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/emmanuel-lamur/b4e6df20-145b-4c3c-b39d-f861da4a807b/). Vinny Rey, who doesn’t have great size, is seen as a solid backup and an excellent nickel defender. But he didn’t get on the field in nickel until Lamur and Taylor Mays (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/taylor-mays/2f7a9a69-e958-4e77-9c03-7ae54ecf06af/) suffered season-ending shoulder injuries. And he played well, but Lamur and Mays were ahead of him when they went down.
Are the Bengals going to give AJ McCarron a chance to prove his self in the preseason? Tyler Zinck, Franklin, OH
TYLER: He’ll get plenty of work in the preseason games because he needs it. But they’ll be giving him a chance to prove he’s got the potential to be a solid NFL back up down the road, not if he can replace Jason Campbell as the No. 2 this season.
When and how much do you think Andy Dalton (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/andy-dalton/9378c4ed-938c-434c-929d-4d45fe252101/) will sign a new contract? John Mitcheltree, Cape Coral, Fla.
JOHN: The Bengals’ big extensions with their own players are traditionally are done in the last week of the preseason. (See Willie Anderson, Geno Atkins (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/geno-atkins/cce83be5-6849-488f-b8ed-cc876b47ca32/), Andrew Whitworth (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/andrew-whitworth/3a81696e-e6b3-4abd-8dd0-85e8748fa086/), Leon Hall (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/leon-hall/0f379744-8ae4-4952-8f53-75c2f38f43ec/).) Some have come on the verge of training camp, a la Carols Dunlap and Levi Jones. I’m expecting something like an Aug. 27 announcement for Dalton and Vontaze Burfict, but what the Red Baron secures, I have no idea.
I don’t think he’s getting the $18.3 million average that Kaepernick got because Kaepernick has gone to the Super Bowl and two NFC title games with a better winning percentage. But Dalton’s stats and accomplishments are worthy of a healthy deal and I bet he ends up with a contract that in some instances is better than Kaepernick’s when it comes down to structure.
Given the Bengals’ brutal schedule and being in the toughest division in the AFC, how likely do you think it is that Cincinnati has a down year? Troy Snider, Grove City, OH
TROY: What’s a down year? One and done in the playoffs? I’m assuming you mean their first season in four years without a playoff berth. Or, do you mean an 8-8, 7-9 implosion? Some pundits are calling for the Bengals to drastically fall off, but barring catastrophic injuries I just don’t see it with the talent level , the different approach on offense, and the continuity on the third-ranked defense.
It’s dangerous to make predictions looking at any schedule because, as everyone knows, a lot of teams just don’t play like they’re supposed to. What was the difference between the ’12 and ’13 Falcons? Care to call the Sept. 14 home opener with Atlanta?
But I still think the Bengals repeat their 11-5 finish of last year. The biggest thing going against them is not the division or themselves, but the schedule. An early bye week combined with five of the final seven road games that include two away North games is, as you so aptly put it, “brutal.” A 9-7 season may be equivalent to last year’s 11-5 after you throw in all the elite QBs they face: Brady, Ryan, Luck, Newton, Flacco, Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning,
Anything in the NFL is likely. But on paper, they have proven this roster is playoff worthy, so that’s a reasonable expectation and if they don’t, that’s a downer. And another one and done would be a crushing downer.
Geoff, About the TE roster, I understand that the Bengals are talking with free agent Alex Smith. With Gresham, Eifert, Brock, and Hewitt already listed, do you think we need more depth there? I know he (Smith) was with the team last year, but is it necessary to look at that position on the team? Thanks. Ryan Flanigan, Ripon, WI
RYAN: Yeah, the Gresham injury is kind of hard to get the hands around, but I would think they’ll be on the look out to add a body and it could be as soon as mandatory minicamp this week. From what Lewis said last week, he expects both Gresham and Eifert to be ready for training camp. Eifert (shoulder) could even be back for the mandatory, or the final week of spring practice.
The big piece is Smith and re-signing him has to be a priority. They’ve got the receiver in Eifert. Gresham is underrated as a blocker and Smith is a proven NFL blocker, so that covers them if Gresham takes more time to come back from what is an unannounced physical ailment. Remember, they’re only keeping three so the numbers are pretty good.
When you look at the month of October and the tough opponents the Bengals face in that month is October the month that could make or break the season? Ryan Weissinger, Hamilton, Ohio
RYAN: No question about it. With three playoff teams and the AFC North rival Ravens, October is not exactly a walk in the park. But two things they’ve got going for them are the Sept. 28 bye sets them up for the month and the fact that two of the October games, Panthers on Oct. 12 and Ravens on Oct. 26, are at home.
To me, the make-or-break point of the season is going to be the three-game stretch from Nov. 16-30 all on the road: at New Orleans, Houston, and Tampa Bay. In recent seasons one of those weeks has been the bye, so will they have any legs with the bye nearly two months old? Plus, two of those teams have first-year head coaches, but that’s a bigger advantage earlier in the season. Bill O’Brien in Houston and Lovie Smith in Tampa are going to be settled by then. They’ve got to get out of that stretch 2-1 to have a shot in December. Tough assignment, but Dalton has been able in road games, where he has a record of 14-10.

06-10-2014, 12:31 PM
Hi Geoff, Do you see the Bengals picking up a veteran blocking fullback before training camp? Rich Hidy, Cincinnati, OH
RICH: I used to think so, but now I’m not so sure. I don’t think it’s as much of a priority as it was before the draft. They signed two intriguing undrafted rookies in Nikita Whitklock and Ryan Hewitt (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/ryan-hewitt/928318af-6c12-4cb8-8c58-7e69a2736e42/) and the only way you can know about them is when they put on the pads in training camp. I also think they think Orson Charles (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/orson-charles/9b5e2649-bf72-4025-9e92-f9ed1659c3d9/) is going to be a much better fullback in his second year playing the position and they like what he does for them athletically as a pass catching option. Maybe if people don’t look good in pads early in camp they’d go after a veteran. But I think they like their options at this point.
Given we may sign Andy, will sign AJ, and Vonteze. Does the law firm face a tough training camp given salary cap and gio, peerman and hill as a great combo going forward? David Stewart, Oakville, Ontario
DAVID: BJGE has a tough nut not because of the impending big contracts, but because of the two back-to-back running backs selected in the last two second-rounds. Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill aren’t sitting, so that’s an expensive ($3 million) insurance policy.
Mr. Hobson: Long time reader here, love your work. I'm graduating college in Alabama in July with a journalism degree and was wondering if you needed an assistant? If not, totally understandable, I also want to know your opinion on if Mike Brown lets Andy play out his final year without signing an extension this offseason..? He's been quoted as saying "Just because someone signed a stupid contract doesn't mean I have to." And I know Kaep's contract has some positives parts to it, It still keeps him under contract with big money implications for a few seasons. Which is more than I want with Andy if he blows it in the playoffs this year, I just want him to show Mike; if you show Mike, he'l show you the money. -Thanks! Trevor

TREVOR: Congratulations on the degree, thanks for the kind words, and we’ll keep you on file.
Mike has also been quoted as saying, “You need an accomplished quarterback to win the Super Bowl,” and he’s given whopping deal s to QBs that have accomplished less than Dalton. My sense is he wants to get this deal done before the season because many of the parts are in place and they’ve got a shot to win the big game.
You’re right, if you do it Mike will pay you and that’s why I’m sure the deal Dalton eventually gets will not only have very healthy guarantees, but more escalators than the one Kaepernick signed.
Is the position alongside clear cut starting safety reggie nelson the most open this training camp and the widest open starting role on the defense? with taylor mays, iloka, manning and rookie lewis all fighting for that position, who do you expect to be lining up in it come week 1? Chris Coates, Reading, Ohio
CHRIS: Don’t forget Shawn Williams (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/shawn-williams/b54424d2-1eec-4cea-b649-9973a8a8347d/), last year’s third-rounder who really came on the second half of the season on special teams. I don’t think it’s all that wide open. You figure Wallace Gilberry (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/wallace-gilberry/5e92b88d-d45e-475d-a29b-6c64db345007/) and Emmanuel Lamur are going to start at right end and SAM linebacker, respectively, but not without getting pushed by people likeRobert Geathers (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/robert-geathers/df33bdf1-58ad-48e6-9099-dd89edc34d0e/) and Vincent Rey.
It’s the same thing with George Iloka (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/george-iloka/5c3a8b35-39c1-4e2c-86e5-0e523ff89dc5/), the incumbent safety opposite Nelson. He’ll have to get knocked out of there after making his first 16 NFL starts there last season and he’ll get some run from Williams and Manning.
The most interesting thing there is who are the two safeties they keep after Nelson and Iloka? They’d love to keep Isaiah Lewis (http://www.bengals.com/team/roster/isaiah-lewis/b210bc8e-9776-4272-9b0b-e82aa825a021/) because there’d have to be some fear he’d get claimed if they try to waive him to the practice squad. And, do they count Mays a safety or backer? Keeping him as a swing man has to be appealing.