Stripe Hype Bengals Mailbag: NFL Free Agency Edition


Dec 29, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tackle Anthony Collins (73) against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. Bengals defeated the Ravens 34-17. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

NFL free agency is here, so we thought it would be the perfect time to start up our Cincinnati Bengals mailbag again, this time on a weekly basis. Fans who want to have questions answered can shoot thoughts our way on Twitter and we will answer them each week.

We spoiled the topics this week with out headline. As most could guess, free agency is on the mind of fans at the moment. Fans want to know how the team will act, what positions they may upgrade and if all of the team’s major free agents will be on the move.

Read on to find out, and feel free to send responses and more questions our way on Twitter.

Great question, but I think it has an unfortunate answer—no way. As much as the Bengals like to retain their own guys, that is too steep of a cost for a player who they may still not have in mind as a starter just yet. No sense in paying a backup that much cash, and bringing him back at that price forces the staff’s hand.

The front office is also on a bit of a tight budget with extensions looming for guys like A.J. Green and maybe Andy Dalton, so they will likely view Collins as replaceable as they can address the position in a much cheaper manner through the draft. Collins is certainly worth the money, but not necessarily in Cincinnati if I had to guess.

I think so, but only through the draft if the board falls the right way. As we have seen in the past, the staff seems pretty happy with Kyle Cook’s play. While he is the obvious weak link on the line, the play of the unit overall was so good last year it is hard to complain.

That said, if a guy like Travis Swanson or Bryan Stork is there in the third round, I could see the Bengals pulling the trigger. It’s just a matter of how the draft shapes up and what their board looks like. But again, it has certainly not been a priority in recent years.

Good question, but I guess it depends on how we define “big name.” If we still consider Darren McFadden a big name, then sure. I’m of the thought process the market does not give him a lot of options and he’ll be content to settle with the Bengals in a rotation. We already know there are those in the organization who would like to bring him on board.

The realistic big names end there, although I suppose it would not surprise me if the Bengals once again dip into the veteran cornerback pool for a guy like Walter Thurmond III or Charles Tillman. Highly unlikely, but the staff seems to love bringing on cheaper veterans and squeezing as much production out of them as possible.

I can’t see it to be honest. I think they want Taylor Mays back to resume that hybrid safety-linebacker spot in certain packages and were pretty happy with how George Iloka improved as the season wore on.

But then again, this is the team that annually brings back Chris Crocker once the season is underway. Them being proactive about it this year and bringing on a veteran like Roman Harper would not exactly blow my mind, but I think the odds are less than 10 percent.

I could write a book on the things I would do differently if I was in charge, but I love the parameters set here.

In Round 1 I would grab Taylor Lewan, who can start right away at left tackle while Whitworth bounces inside. That, or he can sit for a year or two and learn from Paul Alexander, one of the best in the business. Heck, maybe he can start at left guard.

I’d then jump on a bigger, physical corner like Pierre Desir in Round 2 to groom for a year or two as well while he contributes on special teams. Ideally he’d be the starter across from Dre Kirkpatrick in a few years.

Round 3 I’d grab a rotational defensive end to work with Margus Hunt and Wallace Gilberry such as Will Clarke, who has a physical makeup and raw upside similar to that of Michael Johnson when he came out of Georgia Tech. Clarke, if groomed properly, can be a starter in the pros given time.