Nov 25, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (12) celebrates with wide receiver Brandon Tate (19) after scoring during the first half against the Oakland Raiders at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals may have the most stable wide receiver corps in the entire NFL. Of their projected top-7 receivers, Andrew Hawkins (age 27), is the only receiver older than 25, and Brandon Tate the only one with more than two full seasons in the league. Ironically, those are the only two receivers slated to be free agents in 2014, and while it would be nice to have Hawkins back, the Bengals will have several players capable of coming in and taking over the primary slot role.
"“I wouldn’t trade my group for any group in this league,” receivers coach James Urban said. “And I mean that. Our 11 I will stack up against anybody else’s 11.”"
The All-Everything A.J. Green won’t be a free agent until 2015, and there’s almost no way he leaves Cincinnati. Mohamed Sanu and Marvin jones won’t be eligible for free agency until 2016. And Arkansas rookie WR Cobi Hamilton is already drawing the praises of the coaching staff.
That leaves the Bengals a lot of flexibility, security and continuity with what’s becoming a premium position in today’s pass-happy NFL.
"“We got horses in our room,” Sanu said. “A lot of thoroughbreds in there. You can change whoever you want to put in any different spot and we are all going to eat.”"
After both Sanu and Jones shined at various points in their rookie seasons, there’s no reason they shouldn’t become solid weapons,capable of punishing defenses for focusing their coverages on Green.
Jones caught 15 passes for 175 yards and a TD over the final five games, and Sanu caught four touchdowns in a three-game stretch before breaking his foot and missing the rest of the year.
Don’t forget about the elder Hawkins, who started off the 2012 season great, recording 25 catches for 329 yards over his first 6 games before a knee injury slowed him down for the rest of the year (also missed two games).
In the end, this might not be as top-heavy as the Chad Johnson/T.J. Who’s-Your-Moma/Chris Henry threesome, but this may be the deepest they’ve ever been in franchise history. Only time will tell if they are able to live up to that belief.