Bengals sign Jason Campbell to serve as backup, push Andy Dalton

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis expects quarterback Jason Campbell to do a lot more than hold a clipboard next season in Cincinnati.

The organization announced Thursday that they signed a one-year deal with Campbell, a former first-round draft pick out of Auburn with 79 NFL starts (86 appearances) under his belt.

"When you just look at the whole organization – you know it's a team that has been winning over the last three years, been to the playoffs – I feel like they're structured from top to bottom for success," he said during signing day press conference at Paul Brown Stadium.

Campbell spent last season with the Cleveland Browns, where he split time with embattled former starter Brandon Weeden and No. 3 QB Brian Hoyer.

While it's clear the Bengals signed him to serve as a backup to Dalton, Lewis believes Campbell's new role will consist of a lot more than signaling in plays and preparing for a worst-case scenario. He thinks he'll help push incumbent starter Andy Dalton to the next level of his development as a franchise quarterback.

“Jason obviously has extensive playing and starting history, and as a backup, he can provide the stability and experience we’re looking for in that role,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “His experience will be a great asset to our other quarterbacks.”

The Bengals decision to sign Campbell almost certainly means the team will part ways with current No. 2 Josh Johnson who was signed by the club in March 2013 to serve as an athletic cog to fit into the West Coast-style machine run by former offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. With Gruden off to lead the Redskins, it seems as though the writing is on the wall for Johnson.

Part of the knock against Johnson is he hasn't been able to shake the label of "project." While he possesses all the tools to be an elite quarterback, the 27-year-old hasn't capitalized on his considerable talent to this point in his not-so-young career.

That's not the case with Campbell who at 32 years old is a proven commodity, something the Bengals need as they attempt to overcome their 25-year playoff victory drought.

In addition to having the knowledge of a player who will enter his 10th NFL season in 2014, Campbell has the physical tools to direct a pro-style offense to victory.

During his career Campbell has amassed 16,697 career passing yards and tossed 87 TDs against just 60 interceptions. His career passer rating is 81.8.

“He can play and win games for you if you need him. He’s got great stature and strength, the ability to stand in there under pressure and really throw the ball down the field,” Lewis said of Campbell who was cut by the Browns on March 12 as part of that team’s continued rebuilding effort.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound signal-caller entered the NFL as a first-round draft choice of Washington (25th overall) and played for the Redskins through 2009. He was traded to Oakland in 2010 and was the Raiders’ starter in 2010-11, until an injury prematurely ended his ’11 campaign.

During his time in Oakland, Campbell developed a familiarity with Hue Jackson, the Bengals new offensive coordinator. Jackson served as offensive coordinator for the Raiders in ’10 before being promoted to the head coaching job in ’11.

"You look at coach Hue Jackson, having a relationship with him, it will make my transition to playing in (Cincinnati) that much easier," Campbell said.

He had 19 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and 3,537 passing yards while playing in parts of 19 games over two seasons in Oakland. His QB ratings were 84.5 (2010) and 84.2 (2011), respectively.

After spending one season on the bench in Chicago (2012), Campbell moved to Cleveland as an unrestricted free agent for 2013.

He started eight of Browns' last nine games last season, missing one due to a concussion. He completed 180-of-317 passes (56.8 percent) for 2,015 yards, with 11 TDs and eight INTs.

Campbell took over Cleveland’s starting QB position in Game 8 of last season and posted 100-plus passer ratings in his first two starts, at Kansas City and at home against Baltimore.

He was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his Nov. 3 performance against Baltimore, leading a 24-18 win with 23 completions in 35 attempts for 262 yards, three TDs and no interceptions (rating of 116.6).

Despite showing promise while directing the Browns offensive attack, nagging injuries and a new coaching staff led the team to cut both him and Weeden earlier this offseason.

Now, as his body continues to heal and his mind readies for the upcoming season in a new offensive system, Campbell has a chance to prove he has what it takes to take his new team and his career to new heights.

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