|Brandon Joiner will finally get his NFL shot following his release from prison. (US Presswire)|
Joiner, out of Arkansas State, signed with Cincinnati as an undrafted free agent in May. But before his rookie season started, Joiner was sentenced to three years in a plea deal for aggravated robbery and a drug charge that occurred in 2007 when he was an 18-year-old student at Texas A&M.
When Joiner's prison term began in May, the Bengals placed him on the reserved/did not report list, so they could retain his rights. Joiner was released from prison on parole on Jan. 15, but the Bengals weren't able to move him to the 90-man offseason roster until Monday, due to league rules.
The Bengals made it clear in May that they intended to stand by Joiner. The team released a statement at the time in support of the rookie linebacker.
"Brandon Joiner remains on the Bengals offseason roster. Brandon must serve a sentence for a crime he was convicted of in 2007 -- when he was 18. But his positive actions during the past five years, including significant community service work, graduation from Arkansas State University and an unblemished subsequent behavior record, have generated a group of active supporters that includes Mike Beebe, the Governor of Arkansas, and Hugh Freeze, Brandon's head coach at Arkansas State and now head coach at Mississippi."
After being released from prison, Joiner thanked the Bengals for standing by him, "It means so much," Joiner told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "The support made the time go by faster."
The Bengals support of Joiner will pay off if he can make the 53-man roster. He's expected to compete in what should be an open competition at strong-side linebacker with several players, including the recently signed Aaron Maybin.
Joiner hasn't played football since 2011, when he was named the Sun Belt defensive player of the year after leading the conference with 12 sacks.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to ourRSS Feed, watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can also follow John Breech @JohnBreech.