Bengals Free Agency

Free Agent Targets: Jason Babin In Cincinnati?

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Oct 5, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; New York Jets defensive end Jason Babin (58) before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

As an NFL team, you can never have too many pass-rushers. Cincinnati could definitely use some extra help in rushing the passer; with Junior Galette, one of our potential candidates to sign, headed to Washington, could Jason Babin be a target for the Bengals?

Jason Babin, a free agent who last played for the New York Jets, has been around the league for 10 seasons. Within that time span, Babin has played for the Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Jets.

While the former first-round pick in 2004 has been sent packing more than once, he has–for the most part–always been successful. Babin has accumulated 66.5 sacks in his career and on average gets about 6.5 sacks per season. Just to compare, Cincinnati’s starting defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson have been in the league for five and six years respectively. Dunlap has compiled 35.5 sacks with an average of 7 sacks per season while Johnson has 30.5 total sacks with an average of 5 per season.

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As you can see, Jason Babin has long been an impact player capable of starting, but in Cincinnati, starting wouldn’t even be an option for the 35-year-old (which could actually be a good thing). Dunlap and Johnson are the unquestioned starters, especially considering Babin’s age. Babin’s main competition on the roster would be Cincinnati’s backup left end, Margus Hunt.

While Babin has more career production and experience than Wallace Gilberry and Will Clarke, the Bengals organization is very high on these two players. Gilberry has found a niche as a situational pass-rusher in the Queen City, while Clarke, just 24 years old, has high upside and could potentially become a very vital piece in this defense.

Margus Hunt’s case, however, is much different. Hunt was taken in the 2013 draft as a project selection. He was a project because Hunt only starting playing football during college once the track and field program was cut at SMU. He wasn’t even recruited to college as a football player! Hunt was seen as a very raw talent that if under the right tutelage could become a productive to dominant player. Under former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, Hunt showed a few glimpses of progress; however, when Cincinnati switched defensive coordinators, Hunt was never able to be consistently productive. It’s now been three years since Hunt was drafted, and the Bengals have seen little to no significant progress from Hunt–in fact, he was a potential roster cut in our projections just a few days ago.

In my eyes, Hunt is a lost cause in Cincinnati. There’s a chance that he could succeed in the NFL, but it would probably be outside of Cincinnati. The Minnesota Vikings would be a perfect landing spot for Hunt if Babin were to replace him, as Hunt would be reunited with his aforementioned defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer. If Hunt was to be traded to Minnesota for a late-round draft pick, a spot on the roster could open for a proven veteran like Jason Babin.

“If they don’t want me, I’m sure there’s 31 others that do if it comes down to that,” Babin told the News Thursday. “I’ll be fishing.”

Its very clear that Babin is still very confident within himself; he knows his role as a rotational pass-rusher, and even at 35, he can still be productive. If signed, Babin would likely receive a one-year deal that could incentivize him to relentlessly sack opposing quarterbacks. Either way, I believe that he could be more productive than Margus Hunt in this up and coming season.

It seems as though every time Babin is released, its usually not because of his production, but because of the business aspect of the sport. Another common theme in his releases is that he seems to always be mocked to the Bengals. Cincinnati, which has a serious problem with depth this season, could use Babin’s veteran leadership and pass-rushing prowess, even if it is just for one season.

So now, the question must be asked, WhoDey Nation: Would you want Cincinnati to sign Jason Babin?

Next: Denarius Moore May Have Another Shot

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