For the past decade, if there was one thing that you could count on with the Bengals, it was a sound receiver corps. Nine years of Offensive Coordinator Bob Bratkowski’s wanderlust with wide outs will do that to an organization. Ironically, the only year since 2003 where this wasn’t the case was the 2009 season when the death of Chris Henry left the Bengals too one-dimensional down the stretch, stalling out in the first round of the play-offs against the mediocre Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets. Now, with Jerome Simpson looking at spending the next five years in a different set of stripes, all other upgrades to the Bengals roster may be for naught if a second receiver isn’t brought into the orange fold.
The arrival of A.J. Green and the rest of the Dalton Gang has certainly shown all the signs of being a monster threat in the NFL for the foreseeable future, but remember that literally all these guys are sophomores. Jordan Shipley will be back in the line-up, but he has only played 17 games total after pulling a Matthew Stafford and finding himself K.O.’d twice in his first two seasons. He is more of a slot receiver anyway, which isn’t the best way to stay healthy, and is unlikely to become Wes Welker version 2.0. Ryan Whalen and Andrew Hawkins looked much further along than a seventh rounder and an undrafted free agent should in their rookie seasons. Also, the two Cincinnati rookies, Armon Binns and Vidal Hazelton, are worth keeping an eye on but don’t expect impact performances from them anytime soon. Only the steadfast Andre Caldwell can really be considered a veteran, but he is a free agent as well. Because of a determined season battling a nagging shoulder injury that produced slightly above average numbers, the Bengals will likely offer him a contract that matches his performance.