With free agency set to begin March 11, BengalsGab’s part-time blogger (he knows not to quit his day job) Florida Bengal is counting down his top 10 targets the Bengals could realistically acquire and should look at once free agency officially opens up.
The final member of the “he fits a Mike Brown profile” on this list is former Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins.
The former Ohio State Buckeye (check) is fairly young (check) and shouldn’t command a huge salary (check). Granted, the last two apply as go-to traits for most teams, but the Ohio State connection brings the Bengals into serious play.
Each of the last two years, Chris Crocker has had to come out of retirement but with Mike Zimmer now in Minnesota, that lifeline may no longer exist. I love Crocker, but it’s time for us to look elsewhere for safety help anyway and Jenkins, who can play either spot, would be an excellent running mate for Reggie Nelson.
Fans and pundits alike have listed safety as a major need for the Bengals in pretty much every season of the Marvin Lewis era but the team has done little to address the issue either in free agency or with an early draft pick. In fact, special teamer Shawn Williams is the only safety the Bengals have drafted in the first three rounds since taking Madieu Williams in Round 2 of the 2004 draft.
Jenkins has racked up 50 or more tackles in each of his first five NFL seasons. He’s played in at least 13 games each of those years. While the transition from corner to safety has been a rocky one for the 26-year-old, Jenkins is starting to find his footing and with his ability to blitz off the edge (he had 2.5 sacks last year), he offers more of that versatility that the team covets in its defenders.
This spot could have gone to Donte Whitner, who is older but also probably a better player today than Jenkins, if he hadn’t leveraged the Bengals to get more money when he went to San Francisco initially.