Adams to be a Bengal
Agent says DT will sign on Sunday, boosting league's No. 28 defense
BY MARK CURNUTTE | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The addition of defensive tackle Sam Adams will turn a lackluster free agency period into a successful one for the Bengals.
Adams will fly to Cincinnati Sunday and sign a three-year contract with Cincinnati, agent Angelo Wright said Friday night.
Adams is expected to participate in the team's offseason strength and conditioning program, which will begin Monday.
"He'll be there Monday through Thursday and go back home," Wright said.
Adams lives in Seattle and is owner-operator of an Arena Football League team, the af2 Everett (Wash.) Hawks.
Wright declined to reveal terms but said the deal is filled with incentives, including playing time. ESPN.com reported the first-year value could be $4 million if Adams reaches all incentives.
Adams' reunion with Bengals coach Marvin Lewis - Lewis was Baltimore's defensive coordinator when Adams was a vital piece of the Ravens' record-setting defense - gives Lewis the elusive big tackle that has been missing from his Cincinnati defenses.
Even after 12 NFL seasons, Adams should have enough left to take up space and occupy offensive linemen on first and second down. But don't look for him to play much on third down or obvious passing downs; sitting out those situations should help to conserve his energy.
The additions of Adams and sure-tackling safety Dexter Jackson, the return of star-in-the-making free safety Madieu Williams and a full training camp for second-year linebacker David Pollack should help the Bengals improve their overall defensive ranking from 28th last season. Pollack missed training camp in a contract dispute and had his best performance in the playoff loss to the Steelers.
Season-ending injuries to Williams and Kim Herring - whose contract was terminated Friday - left the Bengals' defense thin at safety. Ifeanyi Ohalete was signed at the end of the preseason, and his poor tackling at the point of attack contributed to big plays by opponents.
"Strong safety, free safety - when they don't tackle, you've got a problem," Lewis said this week at the NFL's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
Adding Adams to the rotation at tackle should help prevent John Thornton and Bryan Robinson - both of whom weigh less than 300 pounds - from wearing down.
Robinson missed seven starts and six games with a foot injury last season, and 320-pound Shaun Smith earned valuable experience in five starts. Smith ended up with 38 tackles and held his ground in the middle of the line.
When smaller, faster linebackers Odell Thurman, Landon Johnson and Caleb Miller are on the field for the Bengals, Adams' presence should help keep offensive linemen from engaging the linebackers and should leave them free to run to the ball carrier.
Still, Adams is not a true nose tackle needed to switch to a four-linebacker set.
Some fans are wondering why the Bengals don't switch to the 3-4, but Lewis is intentionally vague.
"I don't know about that," he said when asked about the 3-4 in Orlando. "I'll keep that to myself."
To Lewis, more girth does not necessarily make for a better defensive tackle.
"Kansas City gave up how many yards rushing a game last year?" Lewis said of the Chiefs (98.1 average yards a game, seventh in the league).
"Oakland gave up how many yards rushing last year (128.1, 25th in the league) and had the biggest tackle known to football (365-pound Ted Washington, now with the Browns). How many yards did (the Raiders) give up? It's got nothing to do with size.
"It has to do with playing and staying on your feet."
Asked what the Bengals need to become a top-five defense, Lewis said: "Make plays, tackle, you run. You tackle.
"You can't give up explosive plays. You can't give up explosive plays and expect to win. We gave up explosive plays in the playoff game against the Steelers. You give up those plays against the Bills. If you don't give them up, you win. If it's all 11 guys or a breakdown of one guy, either way it's an explosive play."