The lack of a preseason gives Zac Taylor and the Cincinnati Bengals one hidden advantage over the rest of the league.
The NFL has announced that they will eliminate the preseason for the 2020 campaign to limit traveling and ensure that the regular season slate can begin on time. Without the usual four tune-up games, it leaves a lot of uncertainty for the Cincinnati Bengals and the rest of the league.
On the surface, it may seem like Zac Taylor’s squad will only suffer from this new development. After all, they will be welcoming a plethora of new faces to Paul Brown Stadium and attempting to successfully transition Joe Burrow to the speed of the professional level. Those things take time and competing in contests that don’t count would allow them to work out the kinks, there’s no denying that.
However, the front office does possess one hidden advantage that could help them in their mission to solidify the roster.
The Cincinnati Bengals’ Waiver Wire Advantage
Although the Queen City is undoubtedly tired of hearing about how their local franchise had the worst record last year, the ramifications from that two-win season are still following them.
Since the Bengals finished last in the league, they possess the first priority on the waiver wire. This means that if a player with less than four years of experience is released, Cincinnati will have the ability to claim that player before any of the 31 other franchises.
They wield this tremendous power until week three of the regular season, where the priority will then be readjusted to reflect the in-season standings. This is a big deal in any offseason, but it’s especially powerful this year, given the circumstances.
For starters, the lack of preseason games means that other teams are more likely to stick with their proven veterans over some late-round rookies and undrafted college free agents. That means some players with a ton of potential will hit the waiver wire and the Bengals can scoop them up.
For example, a lot of the orange and black faithful were pounding the table for the team to sign tight end Thaddeus Moss after he went undrafted to reunite him with Joe Burrow. It turned out the fans weren’t the only ones who coveted the willing blocker, as the front office reportedly attempted to acquire his services.
Unfortunately, Washington swooped in to secure the LSU product that would have gone on day three if it weren’t for injury concerns. In a normal year, Moss probably makes the roster for Washington, but now, nothing is guaranteed.
If you look at the Bengals’ depth chart, the tight end room looks uninspiring after Drew Sample and C.J. Uzomah. They could certainly gamble on Moss’ potential (if he becomes available) rather than keeping around the current options they have.
Keep in mind, this is just one scenario. Exciting offensive linemen, linebackers, or players from any other position could come available that wouldn’t have in other years.
Make no mistake about it, the lack of a preseason hurts the Bengals in a lot of ways. However, in a year where they are attempting to build the foundation for the future, they will have the opportunity to fill out the back end of the roster with some intriguing young players that were spurned for proven veterans because they didn’t get a chance to show what they could do in the preseason.