The Bengals are not usually big spenders in free agency. Here are some free agents that could help Cincinnati find its way back to the postseason.
TE, Trey Burton – Philadelphia Eagles
Over the last two seasons, Burton has tallied 60 catches for 575 yards and six touchdowns. In the Eagles’ momentous win over the Rams on December 10, Burton posted season-highs in receptions (5), yards (71) to go with two scores.
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Can the Bengals get Eifert back with a team-friendly deal? It’s possible, but it’s hard to imagine that another team out there won’t look at his red zone production when healthy and offer up the big bucks.
Burton could be a low-risk signing that compliments Tyler Kroft, who emerged as a viable starting tight end with seven touchdowns in 2017.
Cameron Fleming, OT – New England Patriots
The 25-year-old tackle has played in 47 games and started 20 over the last four seasons. An All-PAC 12 second-teamer as a junior at Stanford, Fleming got the start at right tackle in the Patriots’ win over Jacksonville in the AFC Championship game last Sunday.
The 320-pounder’s strength is in pass blocking. Prior to New England’s win over Jacksonville, Fleming had allowed only eight pressures on 202 pass plays since Week 13, per Pro Football Focus. PFF gave Fleming an overall grade of 75.8 for the year.
Andre Smith and Eric Winston are set to hit free agency. Both were given grades less than 50 by PFF this season. The Bengals have tried and failed with Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher so far. Fleming could help fill one of the two tackle spots while the team explores the draft for offensive line help.
Johnathan Cooper, OG – Dallas Cowboys
Cooper has been a journeyman, wearing four different uniforms over the last four seasons. The No. 7 overall pick in 2013 bounced back last season with the Dallas Cowboys, starting 13 games. The 28-year-old would be reunited with Frank Pollack, his O-line coach in Dallas.
QB, Chad Henne – Jacksonville Jaguars
Some might not realize that Henne is still in the NFL. A second-round pick in 2008, Henne has been a perennial backup signal-caller. Henne has spent the last five seasons in Jacksonville behind first-rounders Blaine Gabbert and Blake Bortles.
It’s anyone’s guess what the Jaguars do at quarterback in 2018. Bortles got Jacksonville within a quarter of the Super Bowl, but many think Tom Coughlin will try to steer his former quarterback Eli Manning to the Sunshine State.
Meanwhile, the Bengals could be preparing for life without AJ McCarron. An independent arbitrator will decide his free-agent status in mid-February. If he’s unrestricted, there’s no doubt McCarron is gone. If he’s restricted, the Bengals will hope to get a first or second-round pick for the National Champion.
That could leave Henne as a low-risk, veteran, second-string option behind Andy Dalton.
This year’s quarterback class is very top-heavy. Some expect the Bengals to take a QB to back up (and possibly replace) Dalton. But, outside the four likely first-rounders – Rosen, Darnold, Allen, Mayfield – that leaves the Bengals in range for guys like LaMar Jackson, Luke Falk, Mason Rudolph and Chase Litton.
The Bengals could sign Henne to a one-year deal, then look for their future QB in the 2019 class.
DaQuan Jones, DE – Tennessee Titans
Jones had an overall PFF grade of 80.8 last season with the Titans. Jones had 31 tackles, five QB hits and four sacks. The 26-year-old suffered a biceps injury on Dec. 3 that landed him on injured reserve.
The Bengals seemed set with edge rushers going into 2018. But if the Bengals cannot retain Chris Smith, then Jones would be a viable option to rush the passer.
Kyle Fuller, CB, Chicago Bears
Fuller would be the Bengals’ biggest in free agency if landed. The Virginia Tech product finished tied with the Chargers’ Casey Hayward for second-most pass breakups and interceptions (19) last season.
Fuller’s highlight of the season was in Week 16 when he locked down Josh Gordon and was the second highest-graded player in the NFL.