The Bengals are not known for putting players into the Hall of Fame. However, there are a few former Bengals who deserve consideration for the Hall.
With Terrell Owens now in the Hall of Fame, it’s time to look at other Bengals who could get into the Hall in the next few years. Owens technically qualifies as a Bengals player in the Hall, although he did only play his age 37 season in Cincinnati. While Owens is likely the best player to have passed through Cincinnati in the last 20 years, there are a few other players who deserve serious consideration for the Hall.
For the purposes of projecting these future Hall of Famers, I’m leaving out players aged 30 or under, like Geno Atkins, AJ Green, or Carlos Dunlap. Any of those guys could easily make it (and Green probably should make it), but their careers are too far from finished to be able to make that call definitively.
Anderson was nearly a lifelong Bengal, playing 11 seasons in Cincinnati before finishing his career with one year in Baltimore. Save for his rookie season, Anderson played entirely at right tackle with the Bengals. Once he made the switch to right tackle, he was a staple of the Bengals offensive line, rarely missing games and creating space for the rest of the offense to flourish.
Anderson peaked between 2003-2006, making four Pro Bowls and three First Team All-Pros during that stretch. What may be even more impressive is what the Bengals did behind him. Corey Dillon and Rudi Johnson combined for 9 1,000 yard seasons, and Carson Palmer blossomed into one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. Without Anderson, that production may not have been possible. Although his accolades might be too thin to get into the Hall, his play certainly wasn’t.
With Terrell Owens and Randy Moss inducted this season, the topic of “big-time production receivers with an ego” is fresh. Johnson fits right into that category, although he didn’t produce quite as much as those other two guys. Regardless, Johnson was absolutely one of the NFL’s elite receivers in the 2000s, and deserves recognition for that production.
Johnson’s 11 years with the Bengals were nothing short of fantastic, before he flamed out with the Patriots. In his career, Johnson put up 766 catches for 11,059 yards and 67 touchdowns. The yards and catches are top 40 all time, while the touchdowns are top 50 all time. Between 2003-2007, Johnson made the Pro Bowl every year, and was First Team All-Pro for two of those seasons. At that point, he was certainly a top-tier NFL receivers. His production certainly merits a look at the Hall, if not an induction.
Whitworth is still active, playing for the Rams currently, but will definitely deserve a look when his time comes. He played 11 seasons for the Bengals, improving each and every season. Since 2010, Whitworth has been firmly entrenched as a top ten offensive lineman in the NFL.
To this point, he has only made three Pro Bowls and two First Team All-Pro teams, but may have gotten stymied by players like Joe Thomas from his own division. Like Anderson, Whitworth may have a hard time getting in without the accolades, but he was an absolute monster for the Bengals for over a decade on the line.