Posted: 12:00 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013
By Anthony Cosenza
For those cynical Bengals fans that insist that the team has a curse upon them, this article isn't for you. Since the re-evaluation and revamping of many aspects of the franchise, the Bengals have made great strides to operate like every other team in the NFL. Since 2011 (or maybe even before), Mike Brown and Co. have done a solid job in beefing up their front office and retaining some of their core players.
There is a bit of irony that leads to shame with the latter part of that statement though. With so many great decisions that created a solid little brewing dynasty came unfortunate and unexpected injuries. Many players on both sides of the ball received deserving lucrative contracts, but some unfortunate circumstances have led to disappointment to some degree.
Since 2011, we have seen extensions to Kyle Cook, Leon Hall, Andrew Whitworth, Rey Maualuga, and Geno Atkins. All five of these players have suffered significant injuries since receiving these extensions, compounding the disappointment that same with the news that they were going to miss significant time.
Before the 2011 season began, Hall signed a four-year, $39 million extension with the club. It marked a significant move for the Bengals, who allowed their other promising corner, Johnathan Joseph, walk in free agency. Though the Bengals made a valiant effort in retaining Joseph, they were a bit turned off to his injury history as opposed to Hall's Cal Ripken-like track record. Ironically and tragically, Hall has sustained two Achilles injuries to two different legs in the past three seasons. He is signed through 2015, but his future is cloudy at best at the moment.
Days before the Hall signing, it was announced that the club gave Whitworth an extension keeping him in The Queen City through 2015 as well. It was well-deserved for the fringe Pro Bowl player and though he went to Hawaii in 2012, Whitworth has battled knee and shoulder issues. Though he hasn't missed the amount of time that Hall has, the left tackle has been been out of the lineup here and there and has self-proclaimed strength issues.
Kyle Cook rounded out a trio of extensions before the 2011 season and it raised eyebrows that the Bengals would make three foresighted moves like that. While Cook was solid in 2011, he suffered a bad ankle injury in the 2012 preseason and missed the majority of the year. Most people felt that Trevor Robinson played better than Cook last year, but Cook won the job in 2013. He has played solid in 2013 once again, but the numbers in the running game haven't necessarily shown that.
The 2013 offseason marked another trio of big extensions and re-signings, including ones to Maualuga, Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. We know the unfortunate situation that landed Atkins on IR and Maualuga incurred an ugly injury against the Buffalo Bills a couple of weeks ago. We won't see Atkins the rest of this season and Maualuga may not return until late November or early December.
There isn't really much to say here except that the Bengals have had an extremely unlucky roll of the dice with these extensions. They have made the correct moves to keep many good players (both on the field and in the locker room) around for a long time and they began to physically fall apart. It's akin to what happened in the mid-2000s when they gave mega-deals to Chad Johnson, Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnson, Levi Jones and Willie Anderson. It seems that they are better-equipped to deal with these losses than they were almost a decade ago, but they can ill-afford to lose any more parts that comprise the nucleus of this team.