Bengals to sign Pacman Jones

It seems the Cincinnati Bengals have room for one more “maverick” as notorious NFL problem player Adam “Pacman” Jones will soon be joining the team

It used to be a running “joke” around NFL circles that the Oakland Raiders and their patriarch Al Davis were the “Statue of Liberty” for NFL reclamation projects — Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.  In the past, Davis had been a master of picking-up cast-offs, usually players with “character” issues like former high motor pass rusher Lyle Alzado, and turning them into productive players on winning teams. 

Well anyone looking for the NFL’s new version of Father Flanagan’s Boys Town doesn’t have to look any further than the Cincinnati Bengals – noteworthy problem players on the team’s current roster include DE Frostee Rucker, WR Matt Jones, WR Antonio Bryant, WR Maurice Purify, DT Tank Johnson, DE Carlos Dunlap, and others.  However it seems that Bengals owner/GM Mike Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis are willing to take-on another “rap-sheet” player. 

As multiple sources are reporting that Cincinnati is very near to signing free agent cornerback and notorious NFL Bad Boy Adam “Pacman” Jones — suspended in the past for the entire 2007 season and part of the 2008 season (player misconduct policy) for numerous run-ins with the law including a much-publicized strip club shooting in Las Vegas.

Jones must have looked better in his recent audition than an earlier tryout in February, where it was reported that he was grossly out of shape.  Pacman will be trying to return to the NFL for the first time since the end of the 2008.  During the 2008 season, the NFL had suspended the former 2005 first round pick (6th overall) from West Virginia again (4 games) after foolishness that included allegedly fighting a paid Cowboys’ security staff member in a hotel.

During his brief time with the Cowboys in 2008 — 9 games w/ 6 starts – Jones didn’t appear to still have the same burst and coverage skills that once made him an in-demand player despite his off-the-field problems.  So at age 26 and having missed almost two full years away from the field over the course of 5 years, that the 2009 AFC North champion Bengals are clearly Pacman’s last stop in the NFL. It will be interesting to see if the former Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys talented yet infamous corner can return to the dangerous player that he once was – in his second season for the Titans in 2006, he had 51 tackles, 12 pass deflections, 4 INTs – returned one for a touchdown — and 3 TD’s on punt returns.

I am figuring that the Bengals will use Jones in the nickel, dime, and on special teams as they already have talented corners Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph.  There are also rumors that the Bengals may try Pacman at free safety in competition with 2010 third-round pick Brandon Ghee and holdovers Tom Nelson and Chinedum Ndukwe (currently in the team’s doghouse) .  For his career, Jones’ numbers are 146 tackles, 4 INTs, 1 sack, over 2000 return yards and 4 TDs in 39 games played.

If the Bengals do sign Jones, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer – took Cincinnati’s defensive ranking from 21st to 4th in just one year – will be his new best and worst friend.  Zimmer, who has been in contact with former player Deion Sanders (Pacman’s friend), has made it abundantly clear that Jones is not coming in to start and that he will need to play with more discipline than he has shown in his career.

Though the Bengals have given second chances to multiple players, like the late Chris Henry, team chemistry is everything to Zimmer, Lewis, and Brown.  Zimmer recently said of the potential Pacman signing, “If we sign him…I’ll be on him at all times.”

So with Adam “Pacman” Jones soon to be entering the fold, I am wondering if the Bengals have any room left in their wacky locker-room for malcontent receiver Terrell “T.O” Owens, who is having trouble finding a job this offseason.

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)