In a move that adds to the speculation of a defensive scheme change, the Bengals re-signed seldom used Jonathan Fanene to a three-year contract last week.

This move makes a lot of sense. At 295 pounds and strong like bull, Fanene, 26,  can play end in a 3-4 or be added to the rotation of defensive tackles.  Fanene is light on his feet for a big man, and has demonstrated an ability to push lineman backwards within the trenches. He’s a high-motor player, and was injury-free for the second half of last season.

The signing attracted little attention from the local media, but a player like this could end up a starter if the off-season doesn’t go as exactly as planned.

Maybe the Bengals don’t draft a defensive end.  Maybe they don’t land a free-agent lineman.  What then?  If Justin Smith walks, as expected, the projected starters at end are likely Fanene and Frostee Rucker.  Weird, huh?

Retaining a player, can sometimes be more meaningful than bringing in a new one.  Free-agents are more of a gamble every year, and Marv doesn’t like surprises.

If he does end up starting, there’s no reason to think Fanene can’t do what Justin Smith has done for the past five seasons.  The difference being that Fanene is younger and stronger than Smith, and comes at a significantly lower price.

Mostly, a move like this is for depth chart reasons.  I still think the Bengals will make a push for a free-agent on defense, likely along the line.  But after last season’s injury plague, we’ve all seen the importance of a strong depth chart.

The team also re-signed wide receiver Antonio Chatman to two more years. Chatman is good in the slot and works well in tight spaces.  He doesn’t drop many passes and can return punts if needed.  He has the most tattoos on the team and is a former Bearcat.  Receiver was another area that was effected by injuries last year, so it again makes sense to keep an inexpensive reserve who knows the system.

Mojokong - all snowed out.

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