Something that is quite surprising to me, and I’m sure quite a lot of you, is that veteran safety Kerry Rhodes is still roaming the free agency market, waiting for that call. Resurrecting his career with the Arizona Cardinals since joining them from the New York Jets in 2010, Rhodes has presented a good case to any team looking for some additional help in the safety department as they get closer to training camp. In his first season with the Cardinals, Rhodes racked up a total of 90 tackles, 12 passes deflected, four interceptions and four fumble recoveries and was awarded the Lloyd Herberg MVP award for the 2010-11 season by the Arizona chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association. Although missing over half of the 2011 season due to injury, Rhodes was still able to return in 2012 to show why he would be deserving of a look this season after tying career-highs in interceptions with four and passes deflected at 11. His tackles were down to 67 as he saw decreased playing time, but he still managed to make a strong case for himself, hence why there is some confusion as to why he hasn’t been signed yet.
The Cincinnati Bengals should be one of the main contenders to pick up Rhodes before the beginning of the preseason this year. Having drafted safety Shawn Williams with the 84th pick in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, it would be easy to dismiss Rhodes by saying that Williams could be ready for the opening game as a complement to Reggie Nelson. However, his work covering tight ends and slot receivers on lateral routes was a big reason why he fell to the third round, and although he could well be a future star and could indeed be high in the current Bengals safety depth chart, the addition of Rhodes could would allow Williams to develop more. Having Rhodes in for the start of the season could be of great benefit to Williams as he could learn a lot from him while sharing the workload at the same time.
I think the most important thing that Rhodes could bring to the team is consistency. The Bengals have had a terrible time over the last few seasons at the safety position, and Taylor Mays would be the main one to note here. Participating in only 25% of the snaps last season and giving up 75% of passes thrown his way, it’s clear that Mays is not right for the Bengals. Bringing in Rhodes at this moment in time and allowing someone else to properly develop Mays to be a serviceable safety could be the best way forward.
Simon Greene – Cincinnati Bengals Writer. You can follow Simon on Twitter @simongreene88