The Tampa Bay Buccaneers nabbed a couple of former Cincinnati Bengals this offseason in Michael Johnson and Anthony Collins, a fact that has some Bengals fans upset. So it should be noted that the Bengals, just a few seasons ago, got one of their best defenders by signing a player the Bucs let slip away. After four years in Kansas City with the Chiefs, Wallace Gilberry was signed during the 2012 offseason to play in Tampa, but was released without playing a single down. The Bengals picked him up, and he’s been an important member of the team since. The 2014 season might be his most important yet.
With Johnson now calling Tampa home, the Bengals will be looking to replace his production, and they hope Gilberry can pick up a lot of that slack. Having recorded 14 sacks in his two years with the team, Gilberry is third on the team during that span. The defense is dependent on a consistent pass rush, and they’ll be counting on plenty of pressure from all of the players in the defensive line rotation. Johnson was a big part of that. Margus Hunt and a possible draft pick will also be contributing, but as young players, Gilberry would still be heavily leaned on.
The Bengals gave Gilberry a huge vote of confidence this past offseason, re-signing him to a three-year deal worth nearly seven million dollars. The team loves what he brings: leadership, drive, and the versatility to be used in a multitude of ways. The coaches love to move the defensive linemen around and maximize their potential to rush the passer. Gilberry’s ability to generate pressure, and solid play against the run as well, will keep him on the field more in 2014. He’s become a fan favorite in Cincinnati, and with good reason. As with the coaches, fans are counting on him to help them get over the loss of Johnson. If the past is any indication, he’ll do right by everybody, and people won’t worry so much about the guys lost to Tampa Bay.