What Do The Bengals Need This Offseason?
Jun 11, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals helmets sit in the end zone during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Every year there is a big debate: What do the Bengals need in the off-season to compete for a Super Bowl? This year is no different. The Bengals have several needs and we have talked about them individually, but never broken down what they need in one complied list. Here is what the Bengals should be looking for this offseason.
When Michael Johnson left, nobody could have guessed the impact he would have on the Bengals’ ability to rush the passer. It seemed to hurt as production dropped to 20 sacks from 43 sacks, and though the tackles for a loss went up from 32 to 42, defensive production went from fifth in the league to 20th. A versatile player like Eli Harold or Shaq Thompson could help as a flex player in a defensive end/linebacker role.
When Vontaze Burfict was injured, every bit of production seemed to go with it. The Bengals linebackers combined for zero sacks and 15 tackles for loss. Vontaze Burfict forced the only fumble and the linebackers really only became effective in pass defense with three interceptions. They need a spark and though Vontaze Burfict should return, barring any set backs from his surgery, with Rey Maualuga set to hit free agency, it should be a point of emphasis this offseason.
Last year’s draft pick Russell Bodine seems to be finally settling into the NFL at center, but the threat of Clint Boling leaving in free agency is real. Because of that, the Bengals must address a front line that allowed Andy Dalton to be sacked 21 times and be hurried a number of times, all leading to 17 total interceptions, some obviously on Dalton more than the offensive line. If T.J. Clemmings is available, I would not be surprised if he tops their list.
Jermaine Gresham played a huge role in the absence of Tyler Eifert, but Gresham could be another player lost to free agency. Kevin Brock and Ryan Hewitt are decent options, but Hewitt lined up more as a fullback and Kevin Brock didn’t play much of a role. When they brought in Eifert, it looked as if they would have a good tight end duo that could be a dangerous weapon. If that plan is to continue, they will need to either lock up Gresham or bring in solid option to replace him.
Although this is not an immediate need, it is definitely something that needs to be addressed. Reggie Nelson is not getting any younger and this being the final year of his contract, now would be the perfect time to bring in a young prospect to take over when he leaves. George Iloka is in the final year of his rookie contract, but has done a great job to give the safety position a boost. If you give Iloka a solid young talent to work alongside in 2016, it could be a strong incentive for him to stay in Cincinnati past this season.
The Bengals will look into adding depth for many positions this offseason, but these aforementioned positions should top their priority list heading into both free agency and the NFL Draft.
Next: Bengals Draft Prospect: Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia
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