Bengals: Chidobe Awuzie’s stellar start to camp should excite fans
This offseason, the Cincinnati Bengals signed free-agent cornerback Chidobe Awuzie to a three-year deal worth almost $22 million.
Awuzie had some nice moments in his four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, but he did struggle last season. He had a career-low PFF player grade of 52.0, his previous career-low was 64.8. Considering his struggles last season, not many had high expectations for Awuzie.
So far, Awuzie has left a lasting impression at the Bengals’ training camp. Over and over again, his name has come up in training camp.
At this point, it’s just becoming a routine of what play did Awuzie make today? Charlie Goldsmith of Cincinnati.com has even suggested Awuzie could be the player of training camp.
When considering the receivers Awuzie is going up against, this makes his play even more impressive. Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Ja’Marr Chase are certainly a formidable wide receiver group. Chase has been criticized for not creating separation during camp and Awuzie is likely part of the reason Chase hasn’t been able to get open consistently, as he has been draped over receivers all camp.
The benefits of Chidobe Awuzie’s play for the Cincinnati Bengals
The news of Awuzie’s great camp is very encouraging for several reasons.
First off, there is a lot of talent in the Cincinnati secondary with Trae Waynes, Mike Hilton, Ricardo Allen, Vonn Bell, and Jessie Bates III. If Awuzie continues his high level of play, this adds a great number two corner to an already good secondary.
Of course, a good secondary is vital in the modern-day NFL with so many lethal passing attacks. In terms of winning, slowing down opposing passing games will go a long way for the Bengals.
Further, there was a concern when Cincinnati lost William Jackson III to the Washington Football Team in free agency. Once again, with Awuzie’s current play the Bengals will not sorely miss Jackson. Instead, the secondary could be improved with the additions of Hilton, Allen, Awuzie, and a healthy Waynes.
With his current level of play, Awuzie could be a steal.
As mentioned, Jackson signed with Washington on a three-year deal worth $40.5 million. Instead of paying Jackson around $14+ million annually, the Bengals opted for the cheaper option in Awuzie. For comparison, Awuzie’s contract is also three years, however, it’s worth nearly $20 million less. This could end up being a bargain for Cincinnati.
There is still a long way to go before the NFL season actually starts and Awuzie must carry his impressive play to the season. There have been countless times players disappointed after a great training camp. However, it is realistic for Awuzie to have a fantastic season.
He was a second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and was considered a first-round talent by some for a reason. Awuzie has all the tools to be a good corner in the NFL.
For now, Awuzie is taking all the right steps to have a stellar season for the Bengals.