Trent Cole is Perfect Free Agent Target for the Bengals


Nov 23, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Trent Cole (58) celebrates his sack during the third quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Titans, 43-24. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Today, the Philadelphia Eagles decided to release all-time Eagle great, defensive end, Trent Cole.  His release presents likely a sad day for many Eagles fans that have spent the past decade watching Cole rack up 85.5 sacks and disrupt countless more plays.  His presence within the defense cannot be understated.  But the Eagles have decided to part ways with Cole, and now he’ll seek a new home to begin the next chapter of his career.  Cincinnati should be that place.

The Bengals should waste no time in expressing their interest in the 10-year veteran.  Trent Cole would add a dimension to their defense that is sorely needed, and in a role that shouldn’t effect the development of others players nor the team’s ability to re-sign the many players they’ll seek to both this year and next.

Trent Cole is a sack master extraordinaire.  He’s fostered his legacy around terrorizing the blindside of NFC East quarterbacks for the last decade.  This is a presence the Bengals need.  This team failed to pressure opposing quarterbacks or even make them slightly uncomfortable for that matter.  This is especially a problem in the AFC North where highly capable quarterbacks such as Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco reside.  Giving players like these copious amounts of time to throw the ball is simply a recipe for disaster.  Trent Cole can help fix this.

The team is sorely in need of a capable rotational pass rusher, and especially from the right end position.  Michael Johnson‘s exit from Cincinnati in 2014 hurt the defensive line.  Although he was hardly it’s most highly regarded player, Johnson played on 907 snaps, which was nearly 85% of the Bengals’ snaps in 2013.  He did so from the right end position and anchored the team’s rushing defense from the quarterback’s blindside.

Despite being 32 years old, Trent Cole still played 800 snaps last year, which was nearly 70% of the Eagles defensive plays.  The Bengals wouldn’t likely ask him to play this amount in 2015 preferring to use him in a rotation in an effort to keep him fresh and ready to go during those key passing and third down situations. Regardless of how many snaps they choose to employ him, Cole would ease the mind of Paul Guenther when on the right side similar to the way Johnson did for Mike Zimmer in the past.

Turning 33 years old in the coming season means Trent Cole won’t likely command a huge salary going forward either.  Advocating for his signing means the team shouldn’t be stingy when trying to sign the player, but market value should bring Cole into the fold at a reasonable and fair price.  This should play into the Bengals’ likely plan of not signing top-tier free agents, but rather those who reside on the tier(s) below that.

Trent Cole’s signing would also bring some smaller added benefits with him.  First, there’s the veteran presence amongst player young players along the defensive line.  Obviously, Cole could mentor players such as Margus Hunt and Will Clarke who are still in the early days of their careers, but Cole could also mentor a highly talented and more accomplished player in Carlos Dunlap.

Last year, the Bengals attempted to move Dunlap to right defensive end in an effort to replace the presence of Michael Johnson.  The transition had mixed results at best.  Dunlap was still a highly-productive player, but could stand to learn a few things about squaring off the left tackles.  This is an area where Cole’s knowledge would be highly beneficial to Dunlap and the Bengals alike.

As a released player, Trent Cole’s signing also wouldn’t harm the Bengals chances of earning a compensatory pick(s) in 2016.  As alluded to in an earlier article, because the Eagles released Cole, his signing wouldn’t affect the Bengals when the league begins determining compensatory selections in the coming year.  With free agents such as Clint Boling, Jermaine Gresham, and Rey Maualuga potentially exiting Cincinnati, the team could earn a selection or two in next year’s draft.

There are several reasons to bring Trent Cole to Cincinnati.  The addition he’d bring to the pass rush is obvious.  The tutelage he provides for the younger player would be important. And the price that he’d come at would fit the team’s plan.  The Bengals must make a big push to sign Trent Cole in the coming weeks.

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