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Why the Bengals are in better shape than the media claims

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 13: Joe Burrow #9 of the LSU Tigers reacts to a touchdown against Clemson Tigers during the third quarter in the College Football Playoff National Championship game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 13: Joe Burrow #9 of the LSU Tigers reacts to a touchdown against Clemson Tigers during the third quarter in the College Football Playoff National Championship game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /
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After going 2-14 last season, the Cincinnati Bengals are facing constant criticism from the national media. Here’s why the franchise isn’t in as bad shape as the media claims.

With all the criticism coming from the national media, from Carson Palmer and Steve Bartkowski warning Joe Burrow about the ownership, to sports talk shows claiming the Cincinnati Bengals are one of the worst organizations in the NFL, pointing out some facts about the direction of the franchise is as important as ever.

A 2-14 record last year secured the Bengals the first overall pick in 2020, but before discussing the draft, let’s get more in-depth about where things went wrong last season. First of all, 8 of those losses were decided by one score or less. They’re still losses, but staying in games is a great sign. It’s fair to think their record would have been better if not for injuries.

Injuries

Key players that missed significant time:

  • AJ Green, WR (whole season)
  • Jonah Williams, OT (whole season)
  • Darqueze Dennard, CB (8 games)
  • Cordy Glenn, OT (8 games)
  • John Ross, WR (9 games)
  • Dre Kirkpatrick, CB (10 games)
  • Darius Phillips, CB (9 games)
  • Auden Tate, WR (4 games)

The Bengals had several key players who missed significant time last season. Yes, a 2-14 record is still bad, but with a lot of those losses being close games and their key players missing, the team isn’t in as bad shape as the record shows.

Cap Space

Potential cap savings

  • Andy Dalton, $17.7M
  • Cordy Glenn, $9.3M
  • Dre Kirkpatrick, $8.4M

Before extensions, the Bengals have roughly $46M in cap space and can clear $35.4M more by cutting/trading these three players alone. That would give the front office nearly $81M to spend on extending players such as Joe Mixon, AJ Green, and Darqueze Dennard, while still leaving plenty of money to attack the free agency market.

So let’s recap. Going into next year the Bengals have:

  • A chance at drafting their franchise QB
  • The first pick at the top of every round
  • Nearly $81M to spend on extending/FA
  • AJ Green (?), and Jonah Williams returning
  • A solid young core (Mixon, Bates, Pratt, etc.)
  • A young coach in his second season

Bengals: Zac Taylor said it best about recent media criticism. light. Related Story

For the media to say the Bengals are in worse shape than teams like the Dolphins and Redskins is flat out wrong. With a good free agency and draft, the Bengals could easily be a team on the rise next season. It’s now up to Mike Brown to make sure his rookie QB is in the best possible position to succeed in the NFL. The time for the Bengals front office to take action is now. They have their chance, now the wait to see if they act on it begins.

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