The Cincinnati Bengals, through the years, have gained a reputation for being a haven for players with a less-than-stellar off-field record. For a time, the team had a series of unfortunate events involving arrests and offenses, sometimes multiple offenses from the same person, and the memory of those times have stuck with NFL fans ever since. It has become a source of humor for fans of other teams around the league, even though other teams have had more recent trouble, and even the media attaches Cincinnati to every free agent or potential draft pick with a history of trouble. To some, the Bengals will always be the team that signs the criminals.
What happens, though, when the “criminal” is a player that could help the team? The Bengals signed Adam Jones at a time when he was running out of chances. Multiple run-ins with the law and several suspensions made him a huge risk, but Cincinnati took that chance and it has paid off in a big way. Vontaze Burfict‘s last season in college, along with his pre-draft workouts, had teams avoiding him. Head coach Marvin Lewis gave him a shot and was rewarded. It can work out.
This season’s possible second chance might go to the much-maligned cornerback, Tyrann Mathieu, who has had an admitted addiction to marijuana, one that got him dismissed from school and into a rehab facility. Having missed his final season of college football, Mathieu faces a tough road in trying to convince teams he can be an NFL contributor.
The Bengals met with the diminutive CB and return man yesterday and Mathieu tweeted that he did some return work for them. The team was below average last season in kick returns and might look for an upgrade. He could also play some cornerback, covering opposing slot receivers most likely. Mathieu showed a knack for making big plays in college, and that’s something sorely needed in Cincinnati, and might make him an option. If he is selected by the Bengals in the draft, there will certainly be chuckles in some circles. However, if he turns out to be a playmaker, it’s the Bengals who will have the last laugh.