Should the Bengals Trade for Tavon Austin?


Sep 14, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin (11) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s purely speculation on my part, but a thought that couldn’t help but occur to me when I saw this tweet.

Evan Silva is a a Senior Football Editor at Rotoworld, so he naturally has solid insight into the performance of players around the league.  Naturally there’s nothing about this post that says the Rams are shopping Tavon Austin, but I couldn’t help but wonder if they could be coaxed.

The Rams gave up a lot to trade up for Austin during the 2013 draft.  He was advertised as an ultra-versatile offensive and return weapon when coming to the NFL from West Virginia.  Austin didn’t wow as a returner during his rookie season, but was solid enough.  Within the offense, Austin has been underutilized within an offense that lacks true “weapons.”  He did catch 40 passes for 418 yards and four TDs while rushing nine times for 151 yards and one TD, but nonetheless still seems miscast in the offense; Austin’s situation has drawn ire from fans and fantasy owners alike.  The Rams don’t seem to possess an offensive scheme that emphasizes Austin’s talents and a bad scheme fits can really deter a players development.  To make matters worse for the young weapon, Austin recently sustained an MCL injury.

Due to Austin’s unique skill set, it will take a creative mind to really unlock all of his potential.  The Bengals certainly possess this kind of mind in offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.  He loves fast, dynamic receivers (see Jacoby Ford) and utilizing them in a multitude of ways.  This off-season the Bengals chose to place an “original round tender” on Andrew Hawkins and lost him to Cleveland because of it; one of the few blunders of their off-season as Hawkins signed for an average of $3.4 million per year and a second-round tender would’ve risked only $2.02 million making it possible the Browns may have surrendered the pick for him.  They could recuperate his role with a player like Austin.

The Rams acquired Tavon Austin by trading up in the 2013 draft.  They exchanged first round picks with the Buffalo Bills, gave the Bills their second round pick, swapped third round picks, and gave the Bills their seventh round pick.  This means acquiring him would require some sacrifice, but the Bengals will likely have two extra compensatory picks this year within the third and fourth round.

They also possess some players that may fit the Rams and their needs namely Dane Sanzenbacher and A.J. McCarron.

Jun 11, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron (5) during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams run a more conventional offense right now and would be a nice fit for Sanzenbacher.  This off-season Sanzenbacher didn’t sign his tender offer for awhile assumedly seeking a better opportunity with another team.  He’ll be a free agent in 2015.  McCarron, an assumed long-term backup for the Bengals, is a nice piece for the team to have, but is expendable.  After Sam Bradford went down with yet another knee injury, they may be willing to take a shot at McCarron, a prove winner, who is signed through 2018.

So, assuming the Rams move on from Bradford in 2015 saving nearly $13 million in cap space, they’ll have no quarterbacks under contract.  McCarron could be given a shot in the later half of this year, once coming off the NFI list and getting a couple of weeks to learn the Rams scheme.

Sanzenbacher could add a nice sure-handed receiver to the Rams receiving corps, something they desperately need to help their offense, and any quarterback, along.  And the Bengals possess some extra picks to help the Rams recoup, what is looking like, wasted picks while also opening up some cap space for the rebuilding team.

The Bengals would still retain at least a normal amount of picks in the coming draft (7) and add a unique weapon, which would replace the one they lost.  They would do so at a cost that wouldn’t hamstring the organization nor change much of the team’s current plans.  The players involved would likely be in better positions for their respective careers going forward as their new teams could use them better than they currently are.

It may be purely speculative (and unlikely) at this point, but once thinking it through, not entirely foolish.  Tell us what you think.