It seems the Bengals are far from done retooling the roster in advance of the draft. Reports surfaced today that the team finally reached an agreement with DB Terence Newman on a one-year deal, and they sent disappointing linebacker Keith Rivers to the Giants for a 5th-round pick.
Newman, formerly of Dallas, had been on Cincinnati’s radar for weeks, and a deal had long been speculated. The cornerback from Kansas State has been a regular starter for the Cowboys since coming into the league in 2003. While he was widely criticized in “Big D” for his play of late, he leaves the Star with 32 interceptions in 133 total games played (an average one every four games). He also recorded 534 total tackles, 2 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, and returned 3 picks for touchdowns.
It may be recalled that the Bengals flirted a bit with the idea of drafting Newman (as well as QB Byron Leftwich) with the number 1 overall pick in 2003, but went with the safer pick in Carson Palmer instead. At that time, Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer held the same position in Dallas and coached Newman during the early part of his career.
At best, Newman adds an experienced starter to the defensive backfield, and reduces the need to look at corner in round 1 of the draft. At worst, he constitutes depth and competition behind the starters and insurance against Leon Hall’s Achilles tendon injury.
The Bengals now have a cornerback roster that includes Leon Hall, Nate Clements, Adam Jones, Jason Allen, Newman, Brandon Ghee, and Rico Murray. All but Ghee and Murray (who looked to have trouble making the final roster) are former first-round picks.
Rivers Heads to Big Blue
In addition to the Newman signing, reports today indicated that the team has sent former first round pick Keith Rivers to the Giants for a fifth-round pick.
Rivers’ future with the club was a matter of speculation here, as his injury history and production were called into question by fans and team observers alike. Rivers finishes his Cincy career with 186 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 interceptions in 35 total games. He missed the last 9 games of his rookie campaign in 2008 after getting his jaw broken on a vicious crack-back block by the now-retired Hines Ward. Ward’s shot resulting in revised rules to protect defenseless players in 2009. More recently, Rivers missed the entire 2011 season with a wrist injury that was career-threatening according to some reports.
We assume the Giants will confirm the completion of the trade with Rivers passing a physical.
The Bengals get the 167th pick overall in round 5, giving the team 3 total in that round. They maintain their own at 156th, plus they have New England’s pick at 166 for Chad Ochocinco. It should be interesting to see what they do with back-to-back picks at the end of round five.
Rivers’ departure was not unexpected, and I’m pleased they were able to get something for him. Many speculated that he might be cut, and with Manny Lawson and Thomas Howard, the team has better alternatives already on the roster.
That said, I think this increases the chances that the team will look at adding to the linebacker corps during the draft. After starters Rey Maualuga, Howard, and Lawson, the team has a lot of potential but very little playing time on the bench. Maualuga is likely to receive a suspension from the league for a recent arrest, Moch has had trouble with migraines, and Roddrick Muckelroy is coming off major knee surgery. The team has high hopes for DeQuin Evans and Micah Johnson as well, but I would not be surprised to see the team draft a backer early—even round one. Marvin Lewis is said to be enamored with Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw.