Jermaine Gresham Finding Free Agency Tough


Nov 16, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham (84) celebrates a touchdown with quarterback

Andy Dalton

(14) and tight end

Kevin Brock

(83) during the third quarter of a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Bengals defeated the Saints 27-10. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Be it his choice or not, Jermaine Gresham has now tested the free agent market and he’s found it to be a little less inviting than he would’ve hoped.  Free agency can be a lonely period and Gresham’s is living up to that reputation.

Gresham’s reality is unsurprising for many fans, especially Cincinnati ones who’ve been privy to his struggles despite possessing what seems to be relentless promise.  His unique combination of size, speed, blocking ability and talent in the receiving game makes him what could be the complete package.  But for whatever reason, he’s been unable to put it all together and so he’s never reached his promise.

Much like Bengals’ free agents of the past such as Rey Maualuga and Andre Smith, Jermaine Gresham has lacked many suitors and is finding himself at the whim of decisions that are completely out of his control.  Despite being courted by the Oakland Raiders for several days, talks between he and Oakland have apparently stalled.

Meanwhile, the only other interest Gresham has drawn has been from the Cleveland Browns, and after they missed out on re-signing Jordan Cameron, they are in dire need of a tight end.  At this point, Gresham is probably the best free agent on the market, which could likely mean he lands in Cleveland.  But with no established talks or contract yet, we’re still a ways from there.

With all this lack of interest, could Jermaine Gresham, like Rey Maualuga and Andre Smith before him, end up back in Cincinnati?

The Bengals have reportedly prepared themselves to move on from the six-year veteran.  It’s been reported by several beat writers that there are several people within the Bengals organization that want nothing to do with Gresham due to the lack of trust in him.

“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.”

Counter to this belief, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has said that there is still a place for Jermaine Gresham within the Bengals offense. Jackson believes that Gresham is a quality blocker who performed well when the team began to feature the run more than the pass.  Regardless of how frustrating Gresham can be, he did block extremely well last season while cutting down significantly on those costly penalties he’s gained a reputation for.  It’s fair to ask whether Gresham fits better in this type of offense, playing a more complementary role in the receiving game rather than being featured as a receiving weapon.

After signing Michael Johnson to a four-year deal today, the team can turn its attention to their tight end need.  It’s likely this is the position where they can effectively solve a need of theirs considering what’s left on the free agent market.  Jermaine Gresham would continue to give the Bengals and effective blocker along the line while possessing the ability to catch passes for first downs.  And best of all, after struggling to find a deal on the open market, he may be amendable to a shorter deal worth less money in order to earn a better contract in a year or so.

If Jermaine Gresham, who like Michael Johnson has expressed his “heart is in Cincinnati,” were agreeable to a deal more commensurate of what he did with the Bengals last year, which was considerably less than in past year’s, would bringing him back be so bad?  He’d likely act as the team’s second tight end behind Tyler Eifert, and the Bengals could still add another tight end via the draft.  This selection would have a year or two to develop and then take over for Gresham when his short contract ran out.

Jermaine Gresham’s difficult free agency experience may lead the Bengals to yet another familiar, relatively cheap, and quality player.  It may just be the way to go.

Next: Could Pay Cut Lead to Jermaine Gresham's Return?

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