Cincinnati Bengals: Top 5 Free Agents to Target

matthewwillson
Jan 17, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (15) catches a three yard touchdown past Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman (not pictured) in the fourth quarter during the NFC Divisional round playoff game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 17, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (15) catches a three yard touchdown past Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman (not pictured) in the fourth quarter during the NFC Divisional round playoff game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dec 7, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) reacts after breaking up a pass intended for Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed (86) during the second quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 7, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) reacts after breaking up a pass intended for Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed (86) during the second quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

CB: Morris Claiborne

If there is one player who hasn’t lived up to his expectations, it is

Morris Claiborne

in Dallas. So why would I include him in this list? It’s quite simple, really. Claiborne’s potential, despite a rocky start to his career, is still much higher than almost every other corner on the open market. Claiborne is very reminiscent of someone the Bengals once took a chance on: Adam Jones.

Cincinnati has actually had a history of helping former Cowboys corners appreciate career resurgences; both Jones and former Bengal Terence Newman turned their careers around in Cincinnati, eventually becoming the team’s top corner at a point of both of their respective careers.

Claiborne played in 11 of the Cowboy’s 16 games this season. His numbers were not horrible with 37 combined tackles and seven pass deflections. In 2012, his best season, Claiborne tallied 55 tackles, an interception and eight pass deflections. With tons of untapped potential, Claiborne could be a great guy to take a chance on.

Claiborne’s 2012 draft profile praised his athleticism and ability to excel in a zone defense, something that agrees with Cincinnati’s defense. And seeing as how former Cowboys defenders haven’t had any problems acclimating with Cincinnati’s defense, it’s hard to see Claiborne struggling. If the former first-round pick puts in the work and commits himself to continually improving, he’ll still have a chance to become a solid player down the line.

Given the lack of production, Claiborne will likely have to sign for less money than he wants. He’s already made first round money and at around a $5.2 million dollar cap hit in Dallas, could take less than half of that to continue his NFL career. He’ll likely sign a short-term, prove-it type of deal for a year or two at around 2 million dollars per year. That’s more than reasonable for Cincinnati; the Bengals should do everything they can to bring him in town.

Next: Adding a Pass Rush

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