To put it simply, the Cincinnati Bengals are going to have to be more aggressive than they’ve ever been in free agency if they want to be relevant next year. The club calls the uber-competitive AFC North home and their roster has proven to have numerous holes in it. Between the woeful offensive line and league-worst pass rush, there is plenty of work to do in the coming months.
Pro Football Focus has de-facto general manager Duke Tobin and co. accomplishing it, however. The analytical powerhouse projected the Bengals to not only retain two of their own top players in William Jackson III and Carl Lawson but also net arguably the top offensive lineman to hit the open market: Joe Thuney.
Thuney has been a fan-favorite amongst WhoDey Nation, and it’s easy to see why. With 80 starts under his belt, he brings championship-caliber experience to a young offensive line group that’s only expected to get younger after the draft. Solid in all aspects, his addition would bring peace of mind to those who still have the image of Joe Burrow writhing in pain a season ago seared into their memory.
A native of Centerville, just outside of Cincinnati, the guard has family ties that could potentially give the Bengals an edge in acquiring his talents.
Where the Bengals would stand after signing this trio
Spotrac currently has the Bengals’ projected cap space sitting just north of $45M. Assuming they sign this trio of playmakers to the suggested contracts, evenly spread out across the duration of the contract, they would only have roughly $4M remaining to spend.
When taking into consideration the money needed to sign their draft class, in addition to the cap space that is routinely saved in case of in-season injuries, this would effectively put Cincinnati in a position where they couldn’t spend another dime.
However, there are a couple of moves they could make to clear additional space if they wanted to target additional players or extend safety Jessie Bates a year early. Moving on from Geno Atkins saves nearly $10M and a split from infamous right tackle Bobby Hart would give the Bengals almost $6M more to spend.
These funds could be used to bring back key special teams players or perhaps even seek an affordable third wide receiver option.
Either way, if the Bengals follow the plan PFF has set out for them, they’ll be in significantly better shape and will enter the draft with a chance to really take a leap. By targeting an additional tackle and pass rush help, Cincinnati could give Burrow and his supporting cast a real chance at sneaking into the playoffs.