Three veteran cut candidates heading into Bengals’ training camp

Cincinnati Bengals, Giovani Bernard (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals, Giovani Bernard (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals, Alex Erickson (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Bengals’ veteran cut candidates: Alex Erickson

With the return of A.J. Green and the addition of rookie Tee Higgins, the wide receiver position is the most loaded group on the roster. Because of this, fifth-year receiver and return specialist Alex Erickson may just be the Bengals’ most likely veteran to lose his job in training camp.

Erickson has spent the majority of his career as a kickoff and punt return, getting very few offensive snaps in his four years with the Bengals. Due to injuries to many of the team’s top wide receivers in 2019, he had his best season on offense with 43 catches and 529 yards. These numbers are more than double the stats he accumulated over his whole career combined.

In an offense that features five very talented receivers, Erickson does not stand to see offensive snaps in 2020. With multiple receivers competing for the last spots on the team, Erickson should hope to set himself apart with his returning ability. The problem for him in that regard is that two very talented returners emerged for the Bengals in 2020.

Defensive backs Brandon Wilson and Darius Phillips both showed major kick return ability in 2019. Wilson returned 20 kickoffs for a total of 625 yards, giving him an average of 31.3 yards a return. One of those returns was a 92-yard touchdown at the opening kickoff of a game against the Baltimore Ravens. Phillips returned 17 kickoffs for 373 yards, good for 21.9 yards a return. Because of the emergence of these two, Erickson only returned four kickoffs in 2019.

Punts are where Erickson did the majority of his special teams work in 2019. However, with 25 punt returns going for 157 yards, he only averaged 6.3 yards a return. These numbers are very replaceable, and if Wilson or Phillips can show skills returning punts, Erickson will no longer have a foreseeable role with the Bengals. If this happens, he will find himself looking for a new team after training camp.