Cincinnati Bengals: 3 Targets a Week Before Free Agency Opens
Make no mistake about it, the Bengals will sign at least one linebacker via the free-agent market.
After years of underwhelming play at the position, Zac Taylor seems determined to ensure that the unit is no longer the weakness of the team moving forward. Germaine Pratt remains the focal point after a rookie season that saw him improve drastically down the stretch. However, with Nick Vigil set to hit the open market, the future of the rest of the linebacker core remains a mystery.
That’s where Jamie Collins comes in. The 30-year-old is young enough to maintain play at a peak level but old enough to become the leader for what is sure to be a youthful linebacker room in the coming years.
Perhaps most importantly, he excels in an area that the Bengals linebackers have been the weakest in–coverage. The former Patriots linebacker had three interceptions and 7 passes defended in 2019 alone, which is tremendous production for the position.
That’s not the only way he makes an impact, as he forced 3 fumbles and accumulated 7 sacks a season ago, showing he can make plays in all facets of the game.
Spotrac has Collins market value set at $8.8 million per season, based on his production and age. That’s a number the Bengals front office should be more than willing to pay. The leadership he brings along with the skill set he possesses could be enough to be a catalyst for the defense.
Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo will have to ensure he uses Collins correctly. The defensive playmaker ventured outside of New England once before but never saw the same level of play as he did under Bill Belichick. If the front office pulls the trigger on the signing of Collins, they’ll need to have a plan in place to make sure he can maintain his dominance in Cincinnati.