No wonder Marvin Lewis made a last-ditch personal plea to Hue Jackson to stay on as Bengals offensive coordinator.
Cincinnati's head coach realizes that Jackson knows too much about the Bengals, something that surely did not escape the attention of the Browns when they lured Jackson away as the new Cleveland head coach.
Not only are the Bengals keeping in place Jackson's offense, now in the hands of promoted quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese, but they are losing player talent and some of their scouting and coaching to Jackson, who is poaching the Bengals for the benefit of the hated Browns.
Cleveland on Thursday signed promising Bengals practice squad running back Terrell Watson to a reserve/future contract. Watson, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound bruiser, spent his entire rookie season on the Cincinnati practice squad. He led the Bengals with 130 rushing yards on 25 carries during the 2015 preseason, ranking 14th among all NFL rushers. He starred at Azusa Pacific, breaking numerous Division II college records, including most yards in a half with 259 vs. Menlo. He also shattered most of Christian Okoye's school records, and led all of college football with 2,153 rushing yards in 2014.
On Friday, the Browns added longtime Bengals scout Greg Seamon as tight ends coach on Jackson's new Bengals-flavored staff, completing Cleveland's offensive and special teams coaching units. Seamon, 60, was one of four scouts under Bengals player personnel director Duke Tobin, for whom Seamon worked the past 12 years. Retained are Mike Potts, Steven Radicevic and Bill Tobin.
Seamon was hired as a Bengals area scout in February 2004, the replacement for John Garrett, a former Bengals assistant who became a scout but left after the 2003 season to become wide receivers coach at Virginia. Previously, Seamon was a coaching associate and an advance scout for the Bengals, and a tight ends coach for the Cowboys.
Seamon has more than 40 years of coaching and scouting experience. He coached Jackson in college when Jackson was a quarterback at Pacific in 1985 and '86. Jackson landed his first coaching job as a Pacific graduate assistant in 1987. Seamon was offensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati from 1995-98 and OC at Miami University in 1999-00. He also coached at Akron from 1991-94.
The Bengals are down to three scouts with the presumption that they are looking for one. They're also out of running backs on the practice squad.
The Bengals on Wednesday lost promising pounder James Wilder Jr. to the Bills, who plucked the son of the former NFL great off the Cincinnati practice squad. Technically a first-year NFL running back in 2015, Wilder Jr. (6-3, 232) spent the past two seasons on the Bengals' practice squad. He is a former college teammate of Bills running back Karlos Williams when both were at Florida State. LeSean McCoy is the Bills' lead back. Promising Mike Gillislee and veteran Anthony Dixon also are in the mix, so the younger Wilder's path to the 53-man roster remains fraught with obstacles.
Wilder Jr. took some bad advice and showed up as a pro after forgoing his senior season at FSU after playing on the Seminoles' 2013 national championship team, signing with Bengals as a college free agent. He totaled just 1,375 yards rushing yards in three years at FSU, but tied for ninth-most rushing touchdowns in program history with 20. His father rushed for more than 6,000 yards in the NFL with Tampa Bay and Detroit.
Wilder Jr. never saw the field in Cincinnati, underscoring the fact he needed an extra year of development at FSU. He did rush for 161 yards on 39 carries (4.1 avg.) with three touchdowns and totaled four receptions for 22 yards in two Bengals preseasons. But he never did anything to warrant a spot on the active roster while having a penchant for running too upright, which coaches believed made him easier to tackle at the pro level.
It could be just the beginning of the raid. The Bengals, who've replaced three defensive coaches lost to Tampa Bay and Miami, are scheduled to have 14 unrestricted free agents, any of whom may find Jackson's Browns an enticing new home should things fail to work out in Cincinnati. Cleveland has a lot of cap space. Cincinnati has potentially nine starting-caliber free-agents.