2012 is proving to be a year that puts the Bengals in a situation that they are not used to. There are certain roster spots on the team that are very deep with young, talented players whom the Bengals may have to cut solely based on a 53-man maximum roster. These players could potentially start or be a very quality backup on almost any NFL team, however, the Bengals do not have the luxury of keeping all of them. Let’s take a look at three of these positions and how keeping certain players on the roster may affect the depth at other spots on the roster.
This is currently one of the deepest positions on the Bengals’ roster. Cincinnati has already made one tough decision of letting slot receiver, Jordan Shipley go to waivers. On Monday, it was reported that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have claimed Shipley. It didn’t take long for the first major roster cut of the Bengals to find a new home.
The Bengals are now left with more tough decisions at the wide receiver position. Generally, Cincinnati will keep six wide receivers. Five will be active on game day and one will be inactive. But when you look at the versatility of all of these players currently on the roster, it is difficult to validate certain cuts when the day arrives.
Incumbent starter and one of the most electrifying receivers in the NFL, A.J. Green will return as the Bengals’ number one receiver. Armon Binns and Brandon Tate are currently fighting for the second receiver spot. More than likely, there will be a time-share at this position between both of these players. Rookies, Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones have also flashed their brilliance at the position during camp and the preseason. Jones has proved to be a great deep threat and is dangerous in space; he can also be used as a backup returner. Sanu is a versatile receiver that can play on the outside and in the slot. He has shown some surprisingly impressive speed on the field and has great route running skills and terrific hands. Andrew Hawkins has already solidified his spot on the roster after the Shipley cut, as he is the team’s strongest and most reliable slot receiver. Hawkins is also dangerous in the return game as he can return punts and is a fantastic gunner.
So, that makes six wide receivers that the Bengals will normally keep on their roster. However, there is one name that still stands out: Ryan Whalen. Whalen is arguably the team’s best route runner and has some of the most reliable hands on the team. Since quarterback, Andy Dalton relies on timing his throws, route running is that much more important. Whalen has been hampered by injury thus far, but if he can show what he is capable of during the final two preseason games, there may be cause to keep seven receivers on the roster. If the Bengals do cut Whalen, do not expect him to make the practice squad, as there are plenty of NFL teams looking for receivers with his skill set.
If the Bengals do indeed keep seven receivers, which roster spot do they cut down to make up the difference? They could potentially only keep two active quarterbacks or possibly keep one less offensive lineman. However, that is risky business as injuries have been running rampant thus far in the 2012 preseason.