Bengals Roster: Realistic expectations for Eli Apple in 2022

Eli Apple, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Eli Apple, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Eli Apple is back for his second season on the Cincinnati Bengals roster. What should fans expect from him this year? 

With the 10th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected Eli Apple out of Ohio State. He didn’t live up to the expectations in the Big Apple (no pun intended), and by the end of his third pro season, had been traded to the Saints where he spent the next year and a half.

After a year with the Panthers in 2020, Apple joined the Bengals last offseason and went on to appear in all but one game and start all but two games. At first, Apple’s inaugural year as a Bengald didn’t go well, as he was constantly getting burned by the opposing receivers but by the end of the regular season, he had become a nice complement to Chidobe Awuzie.

Apple ended the 2021 regular season with a PFF grade of 60.9, which isn’t an eye-popping grade but it was respectable, especially given how rough he started out.

Bengals Roster: What should fans expect from Eli Apple in 2022?

Apple’s 2021 season, as unfair as it may be, is going to be remembered for him giving up the game-winning touchdown to Cooper Kupp in the Super Bowl. Kupp torched cornerbacks and defenses all season long and in a normal situation, people wouldn’t blame Apple too much for it.

The issue with Apple is that he couldn’t keep his mouth shut last year. Out of nowhere, he slammed the Saints organization and the city of New Orleans and made jabs at the Giants as well. He also fired shots at Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman after the Bengals beat the Chiefs in the AFC title game.

Needless to say, there were a lot of people waiting for Apple to fail and when he did on the grandest stage in all of football, those people weren’t shy about slamming him in the same way he did to them. He definitely deserved all of the crap he got.

With all of that said, however, it was a good move for the Bengals to re-sign Apple on the deal they did. He signed a one-year deal worth $3.5 million and that’s a steal for a potential CB2 on the roster.

The expectations fans should have for Apple this year is that he might get a shot to be the starter again if rookie Cam Taylor-Britt doesn’t look ready to slide in as a starter from Day 1. Apple’s going to have the rookie cornerback on his heels all season long so if he has a few bad games, he might get demoted to a backup role, which could benefit him.

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Apple probably wouldn’t have been most people’s pick to have man the CB2 spot but for now, he makes the most sense to do so. He’ll get every shot possible to hold onto the starting job in 2022.