The Cincinnati Bengals are still trying to figure out exactly who they can trust to start at strong safety in 2013. They already have Reggie Nelson—a fantastic free safety—locked up on an $18 million deal until the 2016 season (via Spotrac.com).
The question that continues to linger is, where will the Bengals find a safety to complement Nelson?
Many pundits and fans are currently looking for an answer to that question within the Bengals' first three draft picks this year. Although that looks to still be the case, another interesting avenue has just opened up.
This was confirmed by Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy on Friday afternoon.
Joe Reedy @joereedy
Usama Young has paid a visit to the #bengals4/5/2013, 6:51:58 PM
Young becomes a very intriguing option at the safety position for Cincinnati. He is a very versatile player with good size—6'0", 200 pounds—and can play both safety positions.
Originally drafted in the third round out of Kent State by the New Orleans Saints, Young spent his first four seasons there. He was unable to play a full season during that span and left once his rookie contract expired.
The Browns then swept him up in 2011 when he finally got through his first 16-game season. In 2012, although only playing in 13 games, he intercepted a career-high three passes.
Young had a productive 2012 season and was given an 8.5 overall rating by Pro Football Focus (subscription required), which ranked him in the top 12 in the league.
Even though he is not quite a game changer, Young would provide a significant boost over the four safeties that attempted to start opposite Nelson in 2012—Taylor Mays, Jeromy Miles, Nate Clements and Chris Crocker.
All four of these players had abysmal performances last season. Clements and Crocker are currently free agents while Miles and Mays are nowhere near ready to start at the NFL level. This makes Young a very nice upgrade in the secondary.
Keep in mind, Young will not be an alternative to selecting a safety early in the 2013 NFL draft, but a nice addition that adds experience and depth to an already talented defense. Also, if a drafted safety either has trouble adjusting or is plagued by untimely injury, Cincinnati has a veteran that could step in immediately.
Coming in at a bargain price of roughly $2 million annually—his contract with the Browns averaged $1.96 million per year (via Spotrac.com)—his contract would not break the bank in Cincinnati.
With $28.8 million left in cap space for 2013 (via Spotrac.com), this seems like an investment that the Bengals should very strongly consider.