The Cincinnati Bengals last week put in a waiver claim for former first-round outside linebacker Takkarist McKinley, looking for some reinforcements on the edge after they traded a disgruntled Carlos Dunlap to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for B.J. Finney and draft pick compensation.
That plan did not exactly work out. The team announced yesterday that they have waived McKinley with a failed physical designation, which now makes him a street free agent. While they did manage to get starting defensive end Sam Hubbard back from the Reserve/Injured List, it didn’t make much difference last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Bengals were riding some momentum heading into that game. They were coming off of their bye week and just before that had pulled off an upset victory over the Tennessee Titans to boot. I’m sure they were expecting better than the blowout that they got at the hands of the Steelers.
Geoff Hobson for the Bengals’ website talked up the move to pick up McKinley, even though the Atlanta Falcons were not impressed with him and had reduced his role before letting him go. He wrote that the Bengals are anxious to see what he can do in their system in a stationary role rather than being moved around.
He also noted that the team’s scouting director has deep ties to UCLA, the college at which McKinley played, and that that would have provided them with a thorough scouting report of the player—even though he is already in his fourth NFL season.
Cincinnati did draft an edge defender in that class in Carl Lawson in the middle rounds, and Lawson has more career sacks than does McKinley. That draft also saw the Steelers pick up T.J. Watt four spots after the Falcons took him. And the Dallas Cowboys took Taco Charlton two spots ahead of Watt as well.
The Bengals do not have much behind Lawson and Hubbard as their starters now. They only have 11 sacks as a team this season over 10 games. Lawson has 3.5 of them, and nobody else yet has more than one. That includes the one supplied by Dunlap. Geno Atkins has yet to record a sack this season.
Considering that the trade deadline has come and gone, it is improbable that the team is going to be able to find much of any help in their quest to improve their pass rush in 2020. It should be a top priority for them in 2021 as they, once again, draft in the top 10, perhaps even the top five.