It didn’t take long for the Cincinnati Bengals to immediately begin addressing their free agent needs from within. The Bengals have done a great job in recent years finding value in their own roster and re-signing top priority guys. This year has been no different as they re-signed arguably the best available safety, George Iloka, and two more staples in the Bengals defense, Adam Jones and Vincent Rey. With the exodus of wide receivers Marvin Jones (Detroit) and Mohamed Sanu (Atlanta), and several players still on the open market, the Bengals need to take a serious look at who else is out there.
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Wide Receiver: This seems to be the most obvious void on the current Bengals roster. Sure, they may address this in the upcoming NFL draft, but the Bengals really need a little more experience than the fall off after AJ Green.
Who is available? Well, with a limited number of veterans out there, a of couple names stand out. One to keep an eye on is 14- year veteran Anquan Boldin. The 35 year-old Boldin is coming off of his worst season since 2004, but who can blame him with the quarterback carousel he dealt with in San Francisco. Boldin is getting up there in age to say the least, but is a veteran guy who is a voice of leadership to what is now a very young receiver core. Boldin should come decently cheap, and bring his AFC North experience with him, having played in Baltimore for 3 seasons.
Another option could be former NY Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. Kerley, whose role disappeared after the additions of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, could offer a little more familiarity in Cincinnati. The 27 year-old Kerley, who is a little younger than the aforementioned Boldin, already knows the Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. In fact, Kerley was one of Dalton’s favorite targets in college as they both hailed from TCU, and entered the draft together in 2011. Again, a cheaper option, Kerley offers speed, familiarity, and more veteran leadership.
Another position to keep an eye on is safety. Yes, the Cincinnati Bengals did well in the re-signing of Iloka, and they still have safety Shawn Williams, who made more of a name for himself this past season, but depth at this position couldn’t hurt. With Reggie Nelson giving the Bengals a “No Thanks” on a two-year offer earlier this week, the Bengals really need to help back up this position. Of course the draft is around the corner, but having another person back there, even a rotation player, would make a big difference.
One guy with local ties to keep an eye on is former Broncos safety David Bruton. Bruton graduated from Miamisburg High School, about 40 miles north of Cincinnati, and the 28 year old may want to end his career a little closer to home. Bruton certainly isn’t an every down guy, but with the Bengals, he doesn’t need to be. Although, with the Broncos during their Super Bowl 50 run, Bruton was placed on injured reserve after breaking his leg playing at Pittsburgh during a controversial hit.
No matter how the rest of free agency plays out, the Bengals have done a good job of securing who they could. Let’s face it, they can’t offer Marvin Jones the opportunity to be the number one receiver in Cincinnati with AJ Green on the roster, and with Calvin Johnson retiring in Detroit, Jones jumped at the opportunity. The Bengals also weren’t willing to pay Mohamed Sanu $7M or so per year to have the limited role he has had so far in his Bengals career. They have done what they can with who they’ve got, and now it is time to look elsewhere and address what are now big issues for the Bengals.