Lost in the initial hustle-and-bustle of free agency was Bengals’ running back Rex Burkhead. Today, however, he is visiting elsewhere.
Former Bengals RB Rex Burkhead was in Atlanta for a visit with the Falcons today, per league source.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 11, 2017
Burkhead, a sixth-round pick in 2013, finally got his chance to shine last season. Giovani Bernard suffered a season-ending ACL tear in November, leaving Burkhead an opportunity that he (pun intended) ran with.
Down the stretch, Burkhead tallied 426 scrimmage yards on 83 total touches. Jeremy Hill missed his first career game in week 17 and Burkhead churned out 119 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Baltimore’s AFC-best run defense.
Fans are finally getting to see what Burkhead can bring to the table. His rise in popularity comes at a time when Hill’s has plummeted. In the last two years, Hill has 20 rushing scores but has averaged just 3.7 yards-per-carry.
Last season, Hill was held under 50 rushing yards in nine of 15 games. Meanwhile, Burkhead gained five-plus yards on 35 of his 74 carries.
The Falcons are coming off an amazing season with a disappointing end. Atlanta blew a 25-point, second-half lead in Super Bowl LI, losing in overtime to New England, 34-28.
But their backfield is in steady shape. In 2016, the duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for 2,482 scrimmage yards and 24 touchdowns. Both are under contract from respective 4-year deals.
Freeman will be a free agent in 2018 and Coleman, who will make less than $900k next season, is under contract until 2019.
The biggest question regarding Burkhead’s return to Cincinnati is Hill. Would another sub-par season from the LSU product make Burkhead and Bernard the team’s 1-2 punch moving forward?
After re-signing tackle Eric Winston to a one-year deal, the Bengals have minimal money remaining in free agency. Especially with 11 picks in next month’s draft.
Burkhead shouldn’t be an overwhelmingly expensive option. His first contract with the Bengals was for just $2.2 million over four years.
As a three-year starter at Nebraska, Burkhead ran for 2,983 yards and 27 touchdowns.