If there's one thing the Cincinnati Bengals have led the NFL in over the last decade, it's arrests. (I stopped counting at ten). The 2009 Bengals made the playoffs for the second time in the last 20 years with more character than they'd had in years -- it was how they could overcome the in-season passings of receiver Chris Henry and the wife of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. Linebacker Rey Maualuga(notes) recently pled guilty to a drunken driving charge, but he responded by arranging to check into the Betty Ford Center, which seems like a standup reaction.
However, if recent news is accurate, we could be looking at a couple of new residents in Marvin Lewis' Home for Troubled NFL Youth. MJD detailed the team's dalliances with Pacman Jones, and Cincy's also been talking with former Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Matt Jones(notes), about a contract (Update: According to several reports coming down the pike Friday morning, Jones chose the Bengals over the Tennessee Titans). Jones, who's been unemployed since the Jags released him last March, seems like the better risk. Jones had issues with the law (his violation of a plea agreement for "drinking while golfing" is particularly priceless -- I have many friends who subscribe to the theory that if drinking while golfing is wrong, they don't want to be right), and his work ethic has been justifiably questioned, but he's a freakish physical talent who can produce on the rare occasions when his head's been screwed on straight. He caught a career-high 65 passes for 761 yards in 2008, leading the team in both categories, before his story went south. The Bengals are now more of a run-first team than they've been in previous seasons, but they've struggled to find consistent production alongside Chad Ochocinco(notes). If he's seen the errors of his ways and can bring his best to the table, Jones could be an extreme bargain. The reported one-year, $700,000 contract means that the Bengals aren't out too much if they're wrong.
Personally, I'd be more surprised if Pacman Jones catches on with the Bengals beyond a reserve role. Not only is his history of legal issues far more complex, but he did very little in his first comeback with the Cowboys in 2008.
On top of that, the team is also reportedly interested in receiver Donte Stallworth, who was recently reinstated by Commissioner Roger Goodell after serving 24 days in jail for killing a man while driving drunk. Stallworth was suspended for the 2009 season, was released by the Browns right after his reinstatement, and is on the market. Are the Bengals just doing their due diligence, or are they interested in returning to the worst of their "America's Most Wanted" days?