The draft is now upon us. Cincinnati has so many holes to fill and are believed to be around the 30 mil number on the salary cap. So, where do we start? First off, we let Jusin Smith go. His 8 million, 2 sack year was a bust by most accounts. He didn’t apply alot of pressure, and his only good trait of being able to run sideline to sideline is starting to wear thin. We have SS Madieu Williams on the brink of leaving for a big payday, a couple of linebackers probably on the way out, and maybe an offensive lineman (Stacy Andrews, unless the Bengals pony up some cash).
So where do we get the most value in getting a veteran free agent? Defensive line, defensive back, linebacker? Offensive lineman to protect Carson and shore up the running game? What positions can a college player come in and have an immediate impact? What positions do we have second tier players who have earned their way into the starting lineup?
For my money, we let Smith go and we let SS Williams go too. With the emergence of Ndukwe, Madieu has become expendable. Domata Peko has made his mark on the D-Line, and should be a full time player in 08. If Odell Thurman gets the anticipated reinstatement from the NFL to play, there is no reason to believe he won’t be able to play his way back onto the field. After sitting for two years, he has to be hungry to get back to the NFL, and the big paydays. Cincinnati also gets back some injured linebackers, so that should help the depth of that decimated core.
On the Offensive side of the ball, what a mess a once highly touted, high octane offense has become. Rudi Johnson plagued by injuries, key offensive lineman plagued by injuries and poor play, a wide receiver who was suspended for 8 games (Chris Henry), another running back who can’t stay on the field (Chris Perry) and yet another running back severely injured before he could really get started (Kenny Irons).
I would like to see the Bengals grab a solid, run-stopping defensive lineman from free agency. If one became available, a solid shut-down corner would be nice too, or in place of. The rest of the gaps can be filled by the draft (Cincinnati picks at 9 in the first round) and by some of their younger players who are ready to step up.