Cincinnati Bengals: The Time is Now
If the Bengals were to ever go “all in,” this is the year to do so. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Since the Carson Palmer era came to an abrupt end in the 2011 season, the Cincinnati Bengals have done a great job pursuing their own free agents and building a sustainably winning franchise through the draft. All of this hard work by coaches, scouts, player personnel and, most importantly, players has now come to a point. Patient fans have been rewarded with a franchise that signs the right players, develops their own talent, and produces winning results. With all of that said, the time to make a real push towards a Lombardi trophy is now.
Why so much urgency? Well, to put it simply, the Bengals may have some serious rebuilding to do after 2015. Between a coaching staff that includes some very desirable head coaching candidates and 21 players who, as of this time next year, become restricted/unrestricted free agents, the Bengals need to start pushing their chips to the center of the table and go all in.
This could be the year the Bengals get active in free agency. Yes, the teams with the most free agent splashes in the offseason seem to fall apart quickly, but the Bengals just need a few players here and there to help tilt that “one and done” needle to the winning side. With over $30,000,000 to spend, and four straight playoff trips under their belts, Cincinnati should be an attractive place to play.
No doubt the organization is still salty about the Antwaan Odom, Antonio Bryant, and, to an extent, James Harrison signings, but it is time to move on. The Bengals need pass rushers, linebackers, receivers and a tight end. The Bengals had 20 sacks as a team last season, a linebacker core that looked lost at times, receivers by committee, and injured tight ends. Again, the time for the Cincinnati Bengals to make a move is now.
If the Bengals don’t improve in 2015, they could be faced with change at both quarterback and head coach as this franchise chooses to move in a different direction. At the coaching ranks, Vance Joseph, the team’s current secondary coach, is going to be a defensive coordinator or head coach somewhere very soon, and the same can be said for offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. If either were to take over as head coach of the Bengals following a hypothetically unsuccessful 2015, fans would need to expect some type of transition period.
As far as free agents, mainstays that could be free agents include A.J. Green, Leon Hall, Andre Smith, Andrew Whitworth, Reggie Nelson, Dre Kirkpatrick, Vinnie Rey, Adam Jones, Kevin Zeitler, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, George Iloka, Brandon Thompson, and Jayson DiManche. Obviously the Bengals are going to try and keep some of these guys around, but with so many free agents, several, if not many, could be lost. This only serves to once again reiterate that the time is now for the Bengals to make a move.
With this Bengals team potentially looking completely different after the 2015 season, and a fan base that is running out of patience, it is time for the Cincinnati Bengals to make a move. Certainly, the Bengals will address some of these needs in the upcoming draft. Fans should have complete faith in the draft process given the track record, most notably, the Jeremy Hill over Carlos Hyde pick in 2014. This year, several quality “cap casualty” players are flooding free agency and with so much available cap space, the Bengals can, and should, sign some of these guys up. Injuries and identity may have been the story of the 2014 season, but the story of 2015 needs to be how everything came together, and that starts now.
Next: Is A.J. Hawk A Good Fit for the Bengals?
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