Bengals: Leighton Vander Esch could benefit from a fresh start
It’s no secret that the Cincinnati Bengals are in need of more linebackers but they didn’t do much at all to improve the position this offseason despite being terrible against the run a season ago.
One intriguing linebacker who could be an option is Leighton Vander Esch of the Cowboys, who Bleacher Report notes is in need of a fresh start. Chris Roling, the author of the article, listed the Bengals as the best fit for Vander Esch and offered this analysis:
"A first-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2018, the former Boise State star had his fifth-year option declined in May.At face value, that’s a shocker for a team that was on a historically bad pace defensively last year and started over with a new coordinator this offseason. But Vander Esch has missed 13 games over the last two seasons.Considering Vander Esch still has plenty of trade value, he might have a better chance at earning a huge second contract and guaranteed playing time on a team with a big need at the position."
Vander Esch was off to a roaring start after the Cowboys made him the No. 19 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, tallying 102 solo tackles as a rookie that year. Dallas felt good about what they had with Vander Esch but it’s been all downhill since then.
As Roling noted above, Vander Esch has missed 13 games in 2019 and 2020 and has proven to be rather injury-prone. This isn’t good for a linebacker especially so young into his career and it makes sense that Vander Esch is a player in need of a fresh start somewhere else.
The Bengals make sense as a landing spot for Leighton Vander Esch.
The worry with Vander Esch moving forward is obviously the injuries. He suffered a neck injury in 2019, which is no joke, and that cost him the majority of that season (he appeared in just nine games that year).
If Cincinnati decided to roll the dice and take a chance on Vander Esch, he’d be playing for a second contract, as he’s in the final year of his rookie deal. This is an incentive for him and he’d be joining a Bengals linebacker corp that could desperately use his services.
Bengals fans might not like the idea of a potential trade for Vander Esch because of the injuries but the worst-case scenario is that they trade for him and he doesn’t pan out in 2021. The best-case scenario is that he comes into the Queen City, kicks butt, and earns a second contract with the team. I’d take that risk, wouldn’t you?