State of the Cincinnati Bengals – Rare Uncertainty Lurking on Special Teams

Long a staple of continuity, the Cincinnati Bengals' special teams unit is in a state of flux with some key roles undetermined for 2024.

CINCINNATI — While there has been a lot of talk about coaching continuity with Brian Callahan’s departure breaking up a five-year run with the same coordinators working alongside head coach Zac Taylor, stability on the Cincinnati Bengals‘ special teams had been an asset for decades.

But changes to the operation have occurred in each of the last two seasons, with Cal Adomitis replacing Harris at long snapper after the veteran suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1 and Drue Chrisman supplanting Kevin Huber, the franchise leader in career games played, late in the year.

State of the Cincinnati Bengals Franchise | Special Teams

Then, rookie Brad Robbins beat out Chrisman for the job in 2023, leaving coordinator Darrin Simmons to deal with some rare instability on special teams.

The goal is to have Adomitis and Robbins re-join kicker Evan McPherson in 2024. But nothing is a given.

Previous Position Breakdowns:

Let’s look at each specialist on the 2023 roster and what to expect in 2024, followed by an overall assessment of the group and where it could be headed.

Evan McPherson (Signed Through 2024)

McPherson is eligible for an extension this offseason, and the Bengals would be wise to wrap him up. No kicker has made more field goals of 50+ yards than McPherson (21) since he entered the league, and his 75% success rate on attempts of that distance is fourth best in NFL history among qualifying kickers.

He’s been consistent from all distances since he arrived, making 84.8% of his kicks in 2021, 82.8% in 2022 and 83.9% in 2023.

McPherson is due to make $1.1 million in 2024. The six highest-paid kickers in the league make an average of between $5 million and $6 million.

Look for the Bengals to extend McPherson before he has a chance to hit free agency in 2025.

Cal Adomitis (Exclusive Rights Free Agent)

Adomitis has been an ideal replacement for Harris, who handled the long-snapping duties for 13 seasons before his 14th ended in the 2022 season-opening overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

With Adomitis being an exclusive-rights free agent, the Bengals can tender him an offer for the league minimum, and he will be unable to negotiate elsewhere, which is exactly what to expect.

Brad Robbins (Signed Through 2026)

It’s been a rough ride for Cincinnati punters the last two years, with Huber, Chrisman, and Robbins all struggling. The Bengals rank 24th in punting average (45.4) since the start of 2022, and they also are 24th in net average (39.9).

They drafted Robbins to fix that, but he only added to the poor numbers. Still, don’t expect them to move on from Robbins, who led the nation in hang time his final two years at Michigan.

What’s Next?

The Bengals will bring in competition for Robbins in training camp, whether that be an undrafted rookie, an unsigned veteran, or perhaps, a wild card.

Simmons was candid about Robbins’ struggles as a rookie, but he also was adamant about his belief in Robbins’ potential.

The other big question for the special teams in 2024 centers around who will serve as the kick returner.

Simmons has used eight different players in the role since 2021, with the most recent being running back Chase Brown after he returned from a midseason stint on IR. But if the Bengals part ways with Joe Mixon, as expected, Brown would slide into the starting role and likely be out of the mix as a returner.

That could open the door for Charlie Jones to handle both punt and kickoff return duties, but his role as a receiver is expected to grow in 2024 as well with Tyler Boyd not expected back.

The Bengals ranked second in kickoff coverage and eighth in punt coverage this year, so there is a solid foundation to work with on those units.

MORE: Cincinnati Bengals Depth Chart 

Finding out if Robbins is the answer they thought he would be and settling on a kickoff returner will be the top priorities in camp.

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