The Bengals have a lot of players eligible to hit the open market March 9. A lot of good players, too.
When that topic was broached with Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther at the NFL Scouting Combine Friday, Guenther had his answer ready.
“Hue [Jackson] wants them all up in Cleveland,” Guenther said, per Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com.
There was probably a hint of sarcasm in what Guenther said, but maybe only a hint. Jackson took over as Browns head coach last month after four years on the Bengals staff and the last two as offensive coordinator, so he knows the prospective Bengals free agents as well as anyone.
Guenther and Jackson were promoted by Bengals coach Marvin Lewis to coordinator roles after the 2013, when Mike Zimmer and Jay Gruden left for head coaching jobs. Among the players from Guenther’s defense eligible to hit the market are starting safeties Reggie Nelson and George Iloka, linebacker Emmanuel Lamur and defensive end Wallace Gilberry.
Bengals wide receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu have already been linked to Jackson and the Browns via various reports and a simple connecting of the dots. The Browns need to add more talent to their receiving corps, even if Travis Benjamin returns.
As for the possibility — or probability — that Guenther and the Bengals lose at least one of their Nelson-Iloka combo, Guenther told Hobson that safety Shawn Williams is a starting-quality player from whom Guenther expects “big things.”