The Cincinnati Bengals took another step toward a near cloning of their 2012 roster with the official re-signing of unrestricted free agents Brandon Tate and Adam Jones.
Both players agreed to terms last week, and the completed paperwork Monday brings the number of UFAs the team has retained to 11, along with one restricted free agent in running back Cedric Peerman.
Tate, who signed a one-year deal, is a fifth-year NFL player who will be entering his third season in Cincinnati. He played in all 16 games with three starts at wide receiver and finished with 13 catches for 211 yards and one touchdown.
His bigger value is on special teams, where he logged 32 of the Bengals’ 41 kickoff returns for a 24.8-yard average that ranked 13th in the NFL.
Tate also had 21 punt returns for an 8.9 average. In his two-year career with the Bengals, he has averaged 10.1 yards per punt return, the top mark in franchise history.
“Brandon has excellent tools, especially great speed, and he can continue to help is both on offense and special teams,” Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons said in a press release. “He’s a hard worker and a good team player. We’re glad to have him back.”
While Tate handled the bulk of the kick return duties, he and Jones split the responsibilities on punt returns. Jones had 26 returns for an 11.6-yard average, which ranked seventh in the league.
“It has been a pleasure to have Adam on our team,” Simmons said. “He’s an explosive player. He’s got great innate talent. And he’s competitive. He’s tough. He’ll fight you. He wants to succeed like crazy.”
Jones, who signed a three-year contract, was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his Week 2 performance against Cleveland in which he had three punt returns for 90 yards, including an 81-yarder for a score.
A seventh-year player who appeared in all 16 games for the first time in his career, Jones also excelled at cornerback in his third season with the Bengals. He made five starts and finished tied for second on the team with 11 passes defensed. He also had 43 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble.
The Bengals began free agency three weeks ago with 23 unrestricted players. In addition to the 11 retained plus Peerman, the club also offered tenders to restricted free agent safety Jeromy Miles and a pair of exclusive rights free agents in wide receiver Andrew Hawkins and linebacker Vincent Rey, all but ensuring they will back in 2013 as well.
Five unrestricted fee agents signed elsewhere, leaving seven players still looking for deals – cornerback Nate Clements, safety Chris Crocker, linebacker Thomas Howard, running back Brian Leonard, cornerback Terence Newman, running back Bernard Scott and tackle Andre Smith.
Free Agency Watch
Unrestricted Free Agents Re-Signed
DE Robert Geathers (three years)
DE Wallace Gilberry (three years)
LS Clark Harris (five years)
P Kevin Huber (five years)
CB Adam Jones (three years)
DE Michael Johnson (one year*)
LB Rey Maualuga (two years)
K Mike Nugent (five years)
TE Richard Quinn (one year)
OT Dennis Roland (one year)
WR Brandon Tate (one year)
* As franchise player, has until July 15 to negotiate longer deal
External Free Agents Signed
QB Josh Johnson (Tampa Bay)
Restricted Free Agents Signed
RB Cedric Peerman
Restricted Free Agents Tendered
S Jeromy Miles
Exclusive Rights Free Agent Tendered
WR Andrew Hawkins
LB Vincent Rey
Unrestricted Free Agents Lost
K Josh Brown (New York Giants)
QB Bruce Gradkowski (Pittsburgh)
LB Manny Lawson (Buffalo)
DT Pat Sims (Oakland)
LB Dan Skuta (San Francisco)
Remaining Unrestricted Free Agents
CB Nate Clements
S Chris Crocker
LB Thomas Howard
RB Brian Leonard
CB Terence Newman
RB Bernard Scott
OT Andre Smith