Somehow it all comes back to the Cincinnati Bengals, that death sentence of a team. Last year they gave big contract to wide receiver Lavernaues Coles whom they figured would replace the departed T.J. Houshmandzadeh. They figured wrongly.
Coles never was on the same page with quarterback Carson Palmer and turned out to be a megabust, catching 43 passes for a mere 514 and five touchdowns. His once superior skills clearly declined last year and the production plummeted. It didn’t hurt Coles in the pocketbook however, as he grabbed nine million in guaranteed money from a four-year $27.5 million deal. Between the guaranteed money and last year’s salary, Coles netted around $200k per catch. Not bad cash if you can get it.
The good news is Cincinnati recognized the mistake, cut Coles in the offseason, and sent him packing with his nine million in hand. They replaced him with another receiver on the downside of his career — Antonio Bryant — who also had chronic knee injuries to boot. The Bengals handed Bryant a $7 million signing bonus and then went out and added T.O. in a low-priced deal. With T.O. in hand and a bevy of receivers selected in the draft, Bryant and his $7 million became expendable. Of course it didn’t help that Bryant didn’t practice after hurting his knee the first day of training camp.
So what’s the grand lesson to be learned here? $16 million doesn’t buy you a whole lot if you’re the Bengals. Oh yeah, and this is probably the end of the career for both receivers. Coles is for sure done whereas Bryant might sign somewhere if his knee heals, but I doubt they combine for 50 catches the rest of their careers. Nice going Cincinnati — way to scout your talent.