Bengals Should Consider These Free Agent Defensive Tackles

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Sep 21, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley (98) before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

After yet another disappointing exit from the playoffs, the Bengals will need to improve their roster if they are going to set themselves up for a better season in 2015.  Marvin Lewis acknowledged that looking over the free agent pool with a more aggressive eye is a strong possibility.  It runs counter to the approach the team has taken in years past.  Many fans will be interested to see if the Bengals really change their approach this year and make a splash.  The urgency in Marvin Lewis’ voice gives hope to those who’d like to see the team spend some cash in order to improve the roster next year.

With a more aggressive approach in mind and free agency on the horizon, one must consider where the Bengals can improve their roster.  Defensive tackle was a weak spot for the Bengals in 2014.  Geno Atkins really shouldered the load in years past.  His “pocket-collapsing” ability allowed the defensive ends to flourish and catalyzed a strong pass rush.  Atkins wasn’t himself though as he continues to recover from a torn ACL.  With a full season under his belt, a return to form isn’t out of the question in 2015, but is far from a guarantee.

Beyond Atkins, the Bengals have little depth at the position.  On passing downs, the team often rotates Wallace Gilberry into the middle as Domata Peko, Brandon Thompson, and Devon Still all lack a pass-rushing prowess.  Against the run, Thompson is the only one who performed at an acceptable level (though he could stand to improve also).  Peko may be on his way out of Cincinnati.  He’s been increasingly ineffective over the past two years and provides little beyond locker room leadership.  Devon Still, who is an upcoming free agent, may follow Peko out the door as he’s struggled to find success in the NFL after being highly drafted in 2012.

With Atkins and Thompson being the only two defensive tackles that really earned their retention, there is a big hole to fill.  One slot should be filled via the draft; the Bengals should probably be looking to draft a tackle within the first few rounds.  But the other slot could very well be filled via free agency.

There are some quality players on the market this year, so with that in mind, let’s identify a few options the Bengals should seek.