Could Jermaine Gresham Really Return to Bengals?


Many fans would’ve assumed Jermaine Gresham would be moving on following the 2014 season.  The fifth-year tight end has had an inconsistent career with the Bengals and has struggled to “put it all together” so to speak.

Because Gresham has left much to be desired over the past five years, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the team would seek another option at tight end in the coming season.  Paul Dehner, Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer nearly confirmed as much when responding to a question.

"“There are many coaches within the building who want zero to do with Gresham at this point. Not all, but some. A mantra of this organization has for a long time been about acquiring players you can trust. I don’t know that this team can trust Gresham anymore. His low tolerance for pain and a career peppered with games missed when he probably could have played through the pain while others, in fact, did play through their pain doesn’t help. His inconsistency with fumbles, penalties, etc., only adds to the lack of trust.”"

“Unreliable” has been an oft used word to describe Jermaine Gresham in recent years.  His playoff resume includes some forgettable performances.  He’s had some costly drops, which even Gresham acknowledges cost the team the game against the Texans.  This year, he missed the game against the Colts.  Gresham did improve upon his penalties and drops this year, but this hasn’t been enough to help him shed the unflattering label.

All this “unreliability” meant the Bengals were likely moving on from Jermaine Gresham.  But offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said earlier this week that Gresham wouldn’t be without a place on the Bengals.  Hue Jackson went on to say this regarding Gresham and the Bengals.

"“We have a way that we do things, and how we want to accomplish things.  Within what we asked him to do this year, he did some good things. There are some things he knows he needs to do to be better, and he will work at them to be better.”"

Despite his mistakes and past transgressions, in typical fashion, the Bengals have stood steadfast in support of Gresham.  Actually, it often likens their unrelenting support of quarterback Andy Dalton.  It’s this loyalty to less than reliable players that has vexed some fans for quite some time.

Many fans have wanted to believe in Jermaine Gresham.  He possesses a rare combination of size and athletic ability, so who wouldn’t want to see him succeed?  But the fact is Gresham will be 27 heading into 2015 and he’s yet reach his ultimate potential.

To be fair, when he’s on, Gresham is an incredible weapon and has proven this in the past.  But it’s because of these flashes of potential that fans grow impatient with his lack of awareness and costly mistakes.

In the end, Jermaine Gresham’s exit from Cincinnati seems likely.  Regardless of how people feel, the fact is he’ll likely want to get paid at least near the level he is now.  The Bengals currently possess three capable tight ends in Tyler Eifert, Ryan Hewitt, and Kevin Brock.  Their varying skill-sets make them an excellent group for a team in need of healthy receiving weapons and capable blockers in the running game.  This means the Bengals will have little incentive to pay Gresham the kind of money he’ll likely seek.  Also, the Bengals should have nine picks in the upcoming draft (once they receive their two compensatory picks), so they’ll have plenty of options to select a tight end in April.

Jermaine Gresham has undoubtedly done some good things for the Bengals.  His 64 catches, 737 yards, five touchdowns in 2012 says as much.  But his mistakes do make him unreliable at times and will give the Bengals room at the negotiating table.  Unless Gresham is willing to take a pay cut to stay in Cincinnati (unlikely), it’ll only take one team to offer him legitimate money and Gresham will likely be gone this off-season.

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