Bengals HC Zac Taylor calls re-signing Eli Apple a “no-brainer” decision
Cincinnati Bengals’ Zac Taylor didn’t think twice about re-signing cornerback Eli Apple in 2022, but maybe he should have.
After Apple infamously gave up two touchdowns in Cincy’s 2021 Super Bowl loss, Apple was subsequently ripped to shreds by NFL fanbases (and some NFL players) from every corner of Twitter.
Ending the year on such a low note could have derailed his future career, but the Bengals ended up re-signing Apple to a one-year, $4 million dollar contract, ensuring their starting corner comes back for cheap.
Some have since called the Apple signing the team’s worst decision this free agency, but Zac Taylor marked the 26-year-old with his seal of approval.
Taylor recently said:
"“If you don’t have a quality corner, people are going to find him and pick on him. Eli Apple is a quality starting corner in this league. I’ve got a lot of praise for Eli. I have a lot of respect for the things he did for us this year. He was a priority to try and bring back because I think our team appreciates him.”"
Cincinnati Bengals’ Zac Taylor has no regrets about re-signing Eli Apple
For all the negative things already said about him, Apple was by no means the worst corner in the league in 2021. According to Pro Football Focus, he recorded the lowest passer-rating allowed in man coverage (22.6) and underwent a huge improvement in the second half of this past season, allowing just 39 catches on 66 targets with two interceptions.
Did he completely burn bridges with his past two teams, the Giants and the Saints? Yes. Does he run his mouth too often on social media? Yes. But Apple also showed his worth to Taylor and the Bengals in an unforgettable year.
Aside from his two embarrassing gaffes against the Rams, Apple made a crucial deflection against the Tennessee Titans in the Divisional Round, and he also stopped Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill on the goal line in the AFC Championship.
Taylor may have Apple’s full support, but Apple still has to establish himself in Cincy as a reliable starter in the backfield. To re-sign Apple is to play with a double-edged sword, and Apple’s consistency will yet again be put to the test in 2022.