The Cincinnati Bengals made four transactions today. Prospective restricted free agent Cedric Peerman was re-signed to a new deal while safety Jeromey Miles, wide receiver Andrew Hawkins and linebacker Vincent Rey all received restricted(Rey/Hawkins, exclusive rights) tenders.
Of that group, Peerman and Hawkins are the two names who stand out.
Hawkins receiving just a tender is no surprise, as the Bengals have Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones and AJ Green ahead of him on the depth chart with Ryan Whalen and a potential free agent addition threatening to push him further down. Hawkins is a good player, but not so good that the Bengals will fear losing him and force a contract offer when one is not needed.
In a somewhat surprising move, the Bengals did feel the need to re-sign Peerman to a contract even though he was set to be a restricted free agent this off-season. Peerman is a very talented, young back, but he was sparingly used last season behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Peerman averaged an incredible 7.2 yards per attempt on his 36 carries (some of which came on fake punts) and one touchdown.
However, Peerman’s inability to be an all around contributor in the passing game has limited his exposure in the offense. The Bengals must feel confident that they can develop some level of pass protecting skills and receiving ability in him over the next two seasons (the length of his new deal). At the very least, this extension guarantees the Bengals an opportunity to see how the 26-year-old continues to develop and means they won’t miss out if he flourishes next season.
It does not alter the Bengals’ need for a new running-back this off-season.
Green-Ellis is the team’s starter, but his lack of explosion makes him one of the worst starters in the league despite his production. Most of Green-Ellis’ production can be attributed to the excellent work of his offensive line. Peerman’s raw talent and ineffective skills make him the complete opposite of Green-Ellis.
The Bengals need to find a balance between the duo because they won’t be able to take a superstar in the draft or pay one in free agency. Finding a late round pick or signing someone in the mold of Rashard Mendenhall or Reggie Bush would perfectly fit the franchise.
Peerman’s potential is the reason he has a new deal, but that potential is unlikely to be realized entering next season.