With roughly $20 million in salary cap space, the Cincinnati Bengals didn't really need the approximately $800,000 that they saved by dealing four-year veteran linebacker Keith Rivers to the New York Giants this week for a fifth-round draft pick.
But the Bengals really didn't need the oft-injured Rivers, the team's first-round pick (ninth player overall), either.
In his four seasons in Cincy, the onetime USC star appeared in just 36 of a possible 66 games (counting postseason), with 34 starts, and missed the entire 2011 campaign. But even more madding to Bengals coaches and team officials was that Rivers failed to make many game-altering plays. Sure his tackles-per-start ratio was decent, but Rivers had just two sacks, two interceptions, five passes defensed, one forced fumble and zero fumble recoveries during his tenure with the team.
That's only 10 "big plays" total, and it just seemed Rivers was never around the ball.
Plus, the Bengals have Manny Lawson and Thomas Howard at the starting outside linebacker spots, and tem officials told The Sports Xchange they are hopeful of being able to retain unrestricted free agent Brandon Johnson to add some depth.
"The one thing about Brandon," one coach said of the six-year veteran, who logged nearly as many snaps as Rivers in recent seasons, is that he gets his hands on the ball. It's like Rivers was allergic (to the football)."
New York will restructure Rivers' contract, to make it a bit more palatable.