This looks like the year of surprises for the Cincinnati Bengals. Making tons of moves in free agency has never been this team’s m.o. (please excuse the Dick Tracy lingo). But, in a shocking move, per Bengals.com, the Orange and Black acquired the services of Chris Smith from the Jacksonville Jaguars. If nothing else, this is a sign that the current status of the defense is under scrutiny. The saying is “defense wins championships.” Looks like the message is being noted by the staff on the shores of the Queen City. The Jags get a conditional pick in the 2018 draft.
Smith brings a total of 4.5 sacks from the Jaguars. He served a backup role with Jacksonville and brings depth to a line that has been undergoing changes. But, that doesn’t mean he has the starting position all locked up. Wallace Gilberry is back for another tour with the Bengals. There’s also the matter of Will Clarke and Marcus Hardison. There’ll be some intense battles taking place in camp this season.
Typically, the Bengals aren’t known for pre-draft trades. There’s still a chance that AJ McCarron could be dealt during their visit to Philadelphia. But, the City of Brotherly Love could see fireworks if McCarron is involved in a trade. Most Bengals fans remember a hard-hitter by the name of Reggie Nelson. He was also picked up from the Jags in 2010.
Smith is a former fifth-round pick from the 2014 NFL Draft. The Bengals will be pleasantly surprised if he produces on the same level as Nelson. Smith’s speed is something that may be intriguing to the Bengals. So far, the Cincy coaching staff has defense on the brain…and that’s good.
Another surprise visit by a running back? Looks like the Bengals are trying to send a not so subtle message to those who think their jobs are safe. Leonard Fournette is in town.
If there’s no desire to get the running game in order, the nonstop visits from backs are overkill. In the past weeks, the Bengals have hosted Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon. There’s also been interest in the likes of D’Onta Foreman.
If for some reason, Fournette slips past other needy teams and is available at No. 9, there’s a good chance the Bengals will scoop him up. By getting up close and personal before the draft, Cincinnati has an idea of what they’ll be getting. And this ain’t the guy that hawks grills. Fournette had a solid resume at LSU and is viewed as one of the top prospects in the draft.
It feels like the bad taste of 6-9-1 is still in the mouths of the coaching staff. Add to that the disappointing loss in the 2015 Wild Card game and this could turn out to be an interesting season. Maybe all that talk of turning things around could start making sense.