Bengals Need To Focus On Securing Their Safeties

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Oct 20, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria (80) makes a catch while being defended by Cincinnati Bengals strong safety George Iloka (43) and free safety Reggie Nelson (20) during the first quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals already have a plan in place for A.J. Green if he does not sign a deal by next season, but they do not have a clear plan if they lose both George Iloka and Reggie Nelson to free agency. Although both still have one year left, insuring that they get some stability in their defensive back field is vital.

Reggie Nelson (31) is aging, but still has some gas left in the tank. According to NFL.com, Nelson recorded four interceptions, 13 pass deflections, 95 combined tackles, and 1.5 sacks in 2014; it was his best season since 2010. He might have three years left before he becomes that veteran who loses a step and if the Bengals can lock him up for two more years, it could be a huge benefit, especially if they are able to bring in a young player soon to ultimately replace him; the two years would afford this young player the necessary development time.

George Iloka has been the most impressive, young player on defense since earning the starting job in 2013. He could be a long term asset for the Bengals and should be re-signed before he even has the opportunity to consider free agency. Iloka had three interceptions, 10 pass deflections, and 74 combined tackles in 2014. He possesses great closing speed and does not let much get past him in the second level.

The third option, which is very likely, is the Bengals drafting a young top tier talent in this year’s draft. They may not go after a first round safety, but definitely need someone who can learn the system quickly and be ready to jump in and be an impact player from day one. Landon Collins has been a name thrown around and would be a solid pickup. If they go a little deeper in the draft, a player like Cody Prewitt out of Ole Miss might be a solid option.

If the Bengals are serious about making a run at their fifth straight playoffs and filling in roster holes with talented depth, they need to lock up Iloka and, at the bare minimum, bring in young talent this year to learn and be ready for next season. They have done plenty in free agency to make a run this season, but their focus must now shift to making sure that their run does not end in 2015.

Next: Bengals Who Could Be Training Camp Casualties

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