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Terence Newman’s Retention Could Be Surprisingly Beneficial

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Dec 7, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Terence Newman (23) knocks the ball away from Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) during the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Despite his advanced age and considering retirement, cornerback Terence Newman has decided he wants to continue his NFL career.   In fact, come Week One of the 2015 season, Newman will have turned 37 years old and will be beginning his 13th year in the NFL (if he garners interest and a contract).

Newman will likely consider any and all offers he receives, but undoubtedly he’ll listen closely if he receives an offer from the Cincinnati Bengals.  He’s been a solid player for the team since joining Cincinnati in 2012 with the support of then defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.  Considering that Newman wants to continue his career, should the Bengals bring him back?

Terence Newman’s return hinges on his willingness to be a reserve player going forward.  Newman has been solid for the Bengals over the past three years including the first half of the 2014 season.  But towards the end of last season, Newman’s performance tapered off.  This decline led to increased snaps for Dre Kirkpatrick and should be a natural transition to employing Kirkpatrick, and even Darqueze Dennard, over Newman.  Both Kirkpatrick and Dennard are former first round selections and have earned the snaps via their performances on special teams.  Despite his diminishing effectiveness, Newman could still bring value to the Bengals.

As alluded to by Marvin Lewis, Newman could be a great mentor for the younger players.  As a former first round selection himself and with 12 years under his belt, Newman has seen it all and has amassed a wealth of knowledge.  This can be passed on to younger players and would only serve to help them.  This knowledge could be especially important for both Dennard and any cornerback the team may add this off-season, presumably in the draft.

Even if the Bengals add another young corner during the 2015 draft, Newman would still have a place on the Bengals.  The team typically keeps at least six corners on the roster.  This list will presumably include Leon Hall, Kirkpatrick, Dennard, and Adam Jones.  Having these four means adding another young corner and signing Newman would give the team six corners.

What is most important though is what Terence Newman would actually bring to the field.  Newman was, again, highly effective during the first half of 2014, so he isn’t far removed from his effective days.  Anyone who watched last season saw that Newman could’ve looked even better on paper had he not dropped several potential interceptions, i.e. against the Ravens, Titans, and Jaguars.

With less snaps, Newman would stay fresher and more ready for when called upon, as is the case for many veterans.  This seems entirely possible when considering how effective early on last season and how his play diminished from there. Having a fresh Newman could be especially important for the Bengals who’ve experienced injuries over the past few years, which makes having capable insurance at the position essential.

Most appealing would be the fact that Terence Newman’s presence would nearly ensure Adam Jones’ continuation as the team’s primary return man.  Having a fourth capable corner means the Bengals wouldn’t have to employ Adam Jones as much on defense.  It’s the best move for the Bengals, which is only bolstered by Jones’ First-Team All-Pro honor in 2014 as a returner, which also makes Jones’ seemingly outlandish statement comparing he and Devin Hester look a little less crazy.  Having Jones fresh and focused on return duties while playing only a complementary role on defense makes both he and the team more effective both on defense and on special teams: Jones was much more effective as a complementary player on defense than as a starter.

Many fans seem to be ready to move on from Terence Newman.  But the fatigue over Newman’s presence seems to have less to do with Newman’s play, and more to do with Marvin Lewis’ decision to keep younger players on the bench for longer than fans would’ve preferred.  Removing these vexing feelings from the equation means Newman’s presence could be a good thing for the Bengals.  But this all depends on his willingness to accept a reserve role and sign a commensurate, one-year deal.  If Terence Newman were amendable to these requirements, the Bengals would do well to consider his return.

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