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NFL Today: Bengal Backfield Blues

April 14, 2023 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Joe Mixon is dealing with legal issues for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Joe Mixon’s legal issues further cloud the Bengal backfield situation. (Erik Drost)

We’re still waiting to see how the Aaron Rodgers trade plays out; Detroit has given up on oft-injured 2020 third overall pick CB Jeff Okudah, trading him to Atlanta for a fifth round pick; and DeAndre Hopkins, the subject of trade rumours, was absent from the Cardinals’ voluntary workouts.

Cincinnati’s Running Back Room

Is anyone else kind of concerned about the current running back depth situation for the Cincinnati Bengals?

Joe Mixon remains the team’s main back, but he’s coming off a down season (a concussion didn’t help matters) and is dealing with legal issues in the form of an aggravated menacing charge for pointing a gun at a woman in a road rage episode. He’s scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday (see video below), and until this is resolved, he’s a bit of a wild card.

The Bengals’ No. 2 running back last year was Samaje Perine, but he bolted for Denver as a free agent even though the contract offers were similar because he says it was time for him to get a bigger role — something he didn’t foresee happening in Cincy.

That leaves Chris Evans and Trayveon Williams as the remainder of the Bengals’ options at RB. Evans, a sixth round pick in 2021, didn’t have a single carry last year, being used almost exclusively as a return man with the occasional reception tossed in. Williams, meanwhile, has seen less and less action in each of the last two years, rushing just six times for 30 yards last season. Still, given the current landscape, he could have a real opportunity next season to show what he can do, and he sounds ready for the challenge.

It’s pretty clear the Bengals need to add depth at running back, so expect them to use the draft to address this situation, especially after failing to sign any free agents. Still, Ezekiel Elliott remains available. Just sayin’…

Kicking It in Dallas

Speaking of Elliott, his former team the Dallas Cowboys — currently +1300 to win the Super Bowl as per Fanduel — do not currently have a kicker under contract.

Last year, Brett Maher — in his second tour of duty with the ‘Boys — enjoyed a career year (90.6 per cent field goal accuracy en route to a personal best of 137 points), but came unglued in the playoffs. He missed four of out five extra point tries in the Wild Card game and then his only attempt in the divisional round. Ugh.

Maher is now a free agent, and it doesn’t seem likely that Dallas will try to re-sign him. Might they turn to another free agent kicker such as veteran Robbie Gould? He doesn’t seem interested in going back to the San Francisco 49ers after six seasons, and is the best kicker in playoff history (a perfect 29-for-29 in field goals).

That sure sounds like a match made in heaven, at least for Dallas.

New England’s Draft Strategy

Coming off a disappointing season in which they finished 8-9 (third in the AFC East), the New England Patriots need a strong draft showing to help them return to the playoffs in 2023. So which direction will they go in the draft?

The Pats currently hold the 14th pick — their highest since 2008 — but it’s not inconceivable that they trade down in an effort to load up on more picks.

Assuming they take the pick, secondary is a key area of need, and this is a good year to be looking for cornerbacks as there’s plenty of good ones out there. New England’s pass D regressed last year and was particularly weak down the stretch.

Cornerback possibilities at 14 include Christian Gonzalez (Oregon), Deonte Banks (Maryland), Devon Witherspoon (Illinois) or Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State). Wide receiver is another area New England is reportedly considering, and in that instance, Zay Flowers from Boston College would be an ideal choice.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

Formed in Paris, Daft Punk consisted of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. Here’s the fourth single from their 1997 debut album, Homework, the instrumental “Burnin’.”

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