After re-signing punter Kevin Huber and Cedric Peerman earlier in the week, the Cincinnati Bengals continued to be one of the most active teams ahead of the beginning of free agency as they re-signed both Wallace Gilberry and Mike Nugent to new deals.
Both Gilberry and Nugent played prominent roles in the team’s playoff journey last offseason, but both also weren’t certain to return. Now that uncertainty can be laid to rest.
Nugent finished last season on IR and was replaced by former St. Louis Rams‘ kicker Josh Brown. Brown filled in admirably finishing his short season with 11 made field goals against just one miss. His consistency caused some to question whether Nugent would be re-signed, thinking that the team would move forward with Brown instead.
That hasn’t proved true, and even though the potential for a training camp competition is still there, it is very unlikely because Nugent was given a two year deal.
Before being injured last year, Nugent had made over 83 percent of his field goal attempts over his three seasons with the franchise. He tied a Bengals record with a 55-yard made field goal against the Oakland Raiders last year, but in 2011, he set franchise records for points (132) and field goals made (33).
On the whole, Nugent’s career resume was much greater than Brown’s and his new contract will serve as a vote of confidence in his abilities moving forward. Confidence is crucial for all kickers.
Gilberry joined the Bengals in the early stages of last year’s regular season. He joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for just one week after being let go by the Kansas City Chiefs. The then four-year veteran had been a bit-part player for the Chiefs for his whole career and didn’t feature for the Buccaneers at all.
For that reason, there were many more questions than answers when the Bengals added him to the roster in Week 3.
He had played primarily as a pass-rushing specialist in a 3-4 scheme while in Cincinnati and failed to even make the active roster for the Buccaneers, who run a 4-3 similar to the Bengals. For that reason, fans were unsure if Gilberry could even get on the field for Mike Zimmer’s defense.
Although those questions were fair, there was no questioning his talent. Gilberry had managed 14 sacks in what was essentially just three seasons for the Chiefs, despite barely seeing the field. That, despite playing sparingly and in a position where he would often face double teams.
To the surprise of many, Gilberry immediately saw the field for the Bengals and it wasn’t long before he began to impress. Gilberry was able to hold the point of attack as a 4-3 defensive end in the running game, while he also managed to beat offensive tackles for 6.5 sacks in just 209 snaps rushing the passer.
The 28-year-old signed a three year deal worth roughly $2 million per season. Youth is still on his side and while his production will never match the best in the league at his position, he looks set to be an efficient part of the Bengals’ rotation on the defensive line for many years to come.