Over the next few weeks leading up to free agency, we’ll be looking at some of the Bengals’ biggest needs and who they may look to in free agency to fill these needs.
Today, we’ll be looking at the wide receiver position. With Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson set to become free agents with no reported talks of re-singing either player, the Bengals have to find a #2 receiver. A.J. Green is a future All-Pro, but with no supporting cast, NFL defenses will begin to put double coverage on him until another receiver shows he can make an impact. Jordan Shipley was a nice receiver, but a torn ACL is no joke, and he may never be the same player he once was. Even if Shipley comes close to the production he had his rookie year, he’s a slot receiver, and this team would still be lacking a true #2 WR. In today’s pass-happy NFL. You need at least three good WR to keep defenses honest and get open to give your QB enough options to avoid from getting coverage sacked, especially in a division where the Bengals play Baltimore and Pittsburgh twice. Mike Brown won’t pay big bucks for the high-profile free agents like Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, or DeSean Jackson. Of the mid-tier free agents that the Bengals would be willing to pay for, here are the most likely to sign with Cincinnati if the team does go the free agency route:
In five seasons with the New Orleans Saints, Meachem has 141 catches for 2,269 yards and 23 touchdowns. After not playing a single game his rookie year, he’s played in all but two games the past four seasons, while starting in 15 games the past two seasons. He finished sixth on the Saints team in receptions with 40 this past season, but was second in receiving yards per catch with a 15.7 mark. He also averaged a TD every 10 catches, so he would provide Andy Dalton with another great red-zone target, and with A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham, the Bengals could quickly become one of the more efficient red-zone teams. Meachem is rated as Pro Football Focus’ 47th best available free agent and 10th best available WR as he graded out with a good +4.2 mark.
After four mediocre seasons in Atlanta and St. Louis, Robinson was a pleasant surprise in Dallas this past season. He caught 54 balls for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns in 14 games and a 15.9 yards per catch mark. He never had over 437 yards his first four seasons, so its unsure how high the market will be for him.