Mike Daniels could help Bengals finish among the top half of run defenses
The rich get richer as an already strong defensive line unit for the Cincinnati Bengals added a top talent in Mike Daniels.
Cincinnati was entering the 2020 season really counting on improvement from their entire defense, especially in the run game. The Bengals were bad as a whole but ranked dead last in rushing yards given up per game. Some of the poor statistics were inflated because they had to play the Ravens twice, but no amount of justification can take away from the fact that the unit underperformed.
Cincinnati decided that they needed to switch things up in free agency when they signed D.J. Reader to a massive contract. Pairing Reader along with Atkins in the middle brought a lot of hope to fans that the unit had a chance to not only significantly improve, but to actually be good.
Enter, Mike Daniels
With things moving in a positive direction, Mike Daniels now enters the room. Daniels has struggled through injury in the last few years but is still posting impressive numbers for an inside lineman. Recording an overall grade of 70.1 in limited playing time in 2019 makes him only slightly less productive than the Bengals’ very own Geno Atkins, who scored a 76.2, according to PFF. Adding another talented player is a great move for Cincinnati.
What makes this transaction even better is the deal the front office got for a player of Daniels’ potential. A one-year contract worth up to $2.7 million could end up being the biggest steal of free agency. Daniels has the ability to disrupt an offensive game plan and shut down the run. Making him a rotational piece so that he can rest and steer clear of injury could make the Bengals’ whole defense scary.
Zac Taylor and Co. will be able to try Daniels out for a year and see if he has put his injury woes behind him. If Daniels is indeed able to stay healthy, he could provide elite performances while also keeping Reader and Atkins fresh throughout the season. Add in the fact that more capable tacklers were added to the other levels of the Lou Anarumo’s unit, and there’s reason to believe the run defense has a chance to go from one of the worst to the top half of the NFL in one offseason.