When a player proves to be too much trouble for the Cincinnati Bengals, that’s probably a bad sign for their career.
However, former Bengals running back Mark Walton — a 2018 fourth-round pick — found a new home despite being arrested three separate times this year. The Miami Dolphins brought in the Miami native and former Miami Hurricane for a tryout at rookie minicamp and announced the signing on Sunday.
“I think people deserve a second chance,” first-year head coach Brian Flores said, via the Palm Beach Post. “I believe that. I think that’s the case. I don’t want to judge people based on one incident. Two incidents. I think it’s a case by case situation for a player and for people in general. That’s kind of my stance.”
Flores’ choice of wording seems a bit odd considering how many times Walton has ran into trouble. It’s not just giving him a second chance; if anything it’s a fourth.
Walton was first arrested in January for misdemeanor marijuana possession, for which he is still awaiting trial. One month later, he was charged with misdemeanor battery stemming from a scuffle with a neighbor in a parking garage. And finally, he was arrested a third time in three months in March on felony charges of carrying a concealed weapon, marijuana possession and reckless driving.
There’s also the high comedy of Walton being too much of a liability for the Bengals, who infamously employed many a troublesome player including Adam “Pacman” Jones, Tank Johnson and Cedric Benson.
Talent gives you a ‘second chance’
It’s worth considering whether or not Walton would be given another chance if he weren’t so highly touted.
Although he only racked up 34 yards on 14 carries last season, he put up 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore at Miami. That was enough to make Walton the 10th running back selected in last year’s draft.
“He’s here on a tryout,” Flores said. “Obviously, talented player. But we want to take a look at him and see if he was a fit for us, on the field an off the field. I think he’s done a good job, really in the one day that he’s been here. So we’ll see how it goes.”
The Dolphins don't have the most settled backfield situation with Kenyan Drake (535 yards) and Kalen Ballage (191 yards) as the top returning rushers. Furthermore, they have a local connection to Walton, so if any team was going to sign him, they seemed like a natural fit.
However it’s far more likely that Walton won’t make the team because he’s not good enough to earn carries, and not because the team thought poorly of his character.
It’s worth noting that none of his alleged crimes were as bad some other players who have been given extra chances, but teams don’t have to employ players awaiting trial on felony charges. Every roster spot given to one player is taken away from another, even for a tryout.
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