Bengals re-sign QB Mitchell to one-year deal
Mitchell, who replaced Akili Smith for the last five games last season, agreed to terms on a one-year deal Sunday. The Bengals expect him to sign a contract in the next few days.
With Mitchell returning, the Bengals have a full complement of four quarterbacks. Jon Kitna will compete with Smith for the starting job in training camp, and Mitchell will vie for the backup spot with Scott Covington.
General manager Mike Brown was prepared to draft a quarterback before Mitchell agreed to return. Brown likes Mitchell, who led the Bengals to two wins, threw three touchdown passes along with eight interceptions, and had a 50.8 passer rating -- well below average.
"When we played with him, we were competitive and we won some, too," Brown said Sunday afternoon, sitting in his office overlooking the Ohio River. "He's a good person and an established veteran player. I'm pleased that he's coming back."
The Bengals had two goals in the draft: prop up the worst pass rush in the NFL, and do something about the league's worst passing game.
When Arizona took offensive tackle Leonard Davis two picks ahead of them in the first round, the Bengals went for pass-rushing end Justin Smith of Missouri.
In the other six rounds, they concentrated on offense. The Bengals took two wide receivers from Oregon State (Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh), running back Rudi Johnson, tight end Sean Brewer and offensive lineman Victor Leyva. They went for a pure pass rusher in the sixth round, taking defensive lineman/linebacker Riall Johnson.
When it was over, Brown was still harping on the quarterback.
"We know it's going to take more than just the players we drafted to make our offense perk up," Brown said. "I keep saying this, you keep writing it and I keep getting letters about it, but the quarterback has got to step up."
Brown liked Purdue's Drew Brees, who went to San Diego as the first pick in the second round. The Bengals would have considered taking him under different circumstances.
"I have real regard for him as a player," Brown said. "I think he was a great pick."
The Bengals also liked some of the quarterbacks taken in the later rounds, but were satisfied with getting Mitchell to come back.
Mitchell came to Cincinnati as a backup last year and got his chance when Smith struggled, throwing only three touchdown passes in 12 games with a 52.8 passer rating.
If things don't work out with Kitna and Smith, Mitchell could get another shot at starting.
"Could that happen again? I think there's always that chance," Brown said.
The Bengals have used their transition tag on Dillon, meaning they can keep him by matching another team's offer. The Bengals have saved a lot of room under the salary cap to do just that, scaring away other teams.
The Browns are the only team with the financial resources to make an offer for Dillon. They had planned to wait until after the draft to decide whether to do so.
By drafting running back Rudi Johnson from Auburn, the Bengals gave themselves some protection in case Dillon holds out of training camp.
Brown reiterated Sunday that he's prepared to match any offer for Dillon, who set NFL single-game and a Bengals single-season rushing records last year.
"We want him here and plan to have him here," Brown said. "We think it will get done."