Bengals Roundtable: Priority Free Agents
By Brian Dugan
None? The interesting thing about young players is that its difficult to tell their full worth after just two seasons or less. Any large scale resigning at this point is purely a gamble, and with the massive amount of players coming into free agency in 2014, why rush the process? Are some of these players very good right now? Sure. But are any of these players marquee? Its still very debatable with a full season still left to play.
Oct 7, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (16) brings down a completed pass during the second half in a game against the Miami Dolphins at Paul Brown Stadium. The Dolphins won 17-13. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Nonetheless, if I was going to gamble, it would be on Andrew “Baby Hawk” Hawkins. With Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham making a twin tower threat, and AJ Green blazing the outside, Hawkins and Giovanni Bernard underneath are going to be nightmares for defenses Further, Hawkins could probably be signed long term right now for a relatively nominal sum, where some of the more obvious upcoming free agents, like Michael Johnson or Geno Atkins, will likely cost a fortune now or later. At the end of the day, its probably better to let the season play out before any major moves are made.
September 23, 2012; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) fumbles after being hit by Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) during the second quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Carlos Dunlap is the one I think has to be re-signed. When he’s at his best, he looks like Julius Peppers, and his ability to dominate a game is something the Bengals don’t want to miss on. Injuries have hindered him to this point, but if he can have a full offseason in the weight room and stay healthy for the majority of the season, there’s no way he doesn’t eclipse Michael Johnson’s 2012 production.
It’s easy to forget Dunlap finished the season as the team’s sack leader with 9.5 sacks in 2010, despite playing in just 12 games. The 9.5 sacks were also the most by a rookie in team history, but he’s never been able to reach his full potential due to his inability to stay healthy. If he plays at least 14 games this year, he gets 13+ sacks easy and will be in line for a berth in the Pro Bowl, and maybe even the franchise tag next offseason if the Bengals don’t get him re-signed now.
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