NFL insider Matt Lombardo of Fan Buzz sees it potentially coming for Cunningham amid the latest big-name injury in the NFL. Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow won’t play again this season due to a wrist injury, and the Bengals will need another signal caller soon to pair with rookie Jake Browning.
Cunningham filled big shoes once before when followed in the footsteps of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson at Louisville where they played together for one season in 2017. The Bengals just lost to Jackson and the Ravens 34-20 when Burrow’s season abruptly ended on Thursday, November 16.
“Malik Cunningham might be the Bengals’ option with the most upside, but could prove most difficult to acquire after the Patriots benched Mac Jones during a Week 10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts,” Lombardo wrote.
“Cunningham offers tantalizing athleticism as a dual-threat quarterback capable of opening up opportunities for running back Joe Mixon in the running game, if he can harness his arm-strength to get the football to the likes of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins in the vertical passing game,” Lombardo added.
“However, Cunningham needs a lot of improvement as a passer,” Lombardo continued. “Still, after finishing as the No. 3 most athletic quarterback at the 2023 Combine, Cunningham could be a fascinating option to add a new wrinkle to Cincinnati’s offense.”
Malik Cunningham Had a Rollercoaster Ride With Patriots Thus Far
While Cunningham could take on a bigger role with New England, he remains on the practice squad amid a rollercoaster journey in Foxborough. Cunningham impressed at training camp and in the preseason after he signed as an undrafted free agent, but the team cut him before the season.
New England then signed him to the practice squad and moved him up to the active roster with a three-year deal for $2.72 million. Cunningham briefly appeared in the Patriots’ 21-17 Week 6 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, and he hasn’t played since. The Patriots cut him again, and he rejoined the organization on the practice squad.
“I mean, look, he’s a young player, so he’s improving,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told reporters about Cunningham in October.
Since New England and the Bengals don’t face each other this season, there are no obstacles for Cincinnati to sign Cunningham from the Patriots practice squad.
Lamar Jackson Shows Support for Malik Cunningham
Cunningham would have big shoes to fill if he played in place of Burrow, but he did just that at Louisville right after Jackson went to the NFL. In 2022, Cunningham broke Jackson’s career touchdown record with a 119th score.
Jackson has repeatedly shown support for Cunningham as his career progressed. That includes a social media shoutout after the broken record and another after Cunningham’s first preseason touchdown with the Patriots.
“Congratulations brother. I already knew you was gonna do it, I can’t wait to see you do it,” Jackson said in a 2022 video. “Tighten down, man, Card Nation!”
For Jackson’s Patriots touchdown run, the former MVP posted “broski” with gasoline emojis on X, formerly Twitter.