Apr 26, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals first round draft pickTyler Eifert
and head coachMarvin Lewis
pose for a photo during a press conference at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals‘ recent history says that making a splash in free agency is unlikely. If you believe that Mike Brown is going to follow the status quo, then free agents like Brian Orakpo and Greg Hardy will not be in stripes next season. That leaves the NFL Draft as the only method by which the team can improve. With the Bengals chasing their fifth straight NFL playoff appearance and first playoff win in 24 seasons, can the Bengals afford to rely on purely the draft to take them to the next level? The answer, not yet!
The Bengals are preparing themselves for the possible loss of a number of impact players such as Jermaine Gresham, Clint Boling, Domata Peko, and Rey Maualuga. Unless they can get a few of them re-signed, there will only be more roster holes to fill during the upcoming draft. It would be a task that’s simply to big to accomplish in a single draft, even considering the Bengals’ nine selections.
The Bengals already need a defensive tackle, but if Peko leaves, they’ll need two. They need a couple of offensive line pieces, especially in light of Mike Pollak‘s release today, and that number would only grow if Boling can’t be retained. They loved the two tight end system with Gresham and Eifert in 2013, but if Gresham leaves, then they will need a piece to replace him also.
The Bengals will need to leave their comfort zone and acquire players such as Jordan Cameron or Brian Orakpo. The key for most successful teams in recent years has been to build via the draft, but to also make timely improvements via free agency. In 2008, the Arizona Cardinals brought in a seasoned quarterback, Kurt Warner, to get them to the Super Bowl. The Seattle Seahawks brought in “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch, which propelled their running game and catalyzed the team’s appearance in back-to-back Super Bowls the last two seasons. The Patriots have grown many players, but filled holes with the likes of Brandon LaFell and Darrelle Revis to complete their Super Bowl winning crew.
There have been some solid players tied to the Bengals in the first round of this year’s draft that would fill needs. Names like T.J. Clemmings, who is a solid offensive lineman from Pitt, and Shaq Thompson, an outside linebacker from Washington, would make for a great start to the upcoming draft. Unfortunately, even in a deep draft where they could solidify two or three positions, the Bengals simply wouldn’t be able to fill all of their needs. They simply can’t keep living off of the draft if they expect to further their success. They will need to bring in key free agents to win now and get them past the first round of the playoffs.
As fans, we place much of blame on Marvin Lewis for not getting it done, but maybe it is Mike Brown, his son Paul, his brother Pete, and his daughter Katie, who are responsible for the team’s lack of free agent signings. Free agents who’ve experienced playoff success can bring that knowledge and attitude to the locker room and the field.
The best reference is in math and science. You can’t use the same formula with the same numbers and expect a different solution. You cannot take this team, replicate what you do every year, and expect them to give you a different result. Eventually your formula must change. Marvin has done well adding youthful pieces through the draft, but now it is time for the Brown family to add the spark.
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