3 defensive players Bengals must add with Deshaun Watson in AFC North

Deshaun Watson (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Deshaun Watson (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals will have a new quarterback to compete with in the AFC North and his name is Deshaun Watson. In a shocking turn of events, the Texans quarterback chose the Browns as his next destination and will be giving up a king’s ransom to land the former first-round pick.

Adam Schefter broke the news on Friday afternoon after most expected Watson to land with either the Falcons or Saints. Watson even eliminated the Browns from contention earlier in the week but then backtracked and decided he wanted to go to Cleveland.

Now that Watson is in the AFC North, the Bengals have to make sure their defense is up to the task of stopping him. Here are three defensive players the Bengals must add now that Watson is in the AFC North.

3. Stephon Gilmore

It’s a pass-happy league and Stephon Gilmore presents one of the best cornerback options still available in free agency. The 2019 Defensive Player of the Year spent last year with the Panthers and still looked good in 2021 despite dealing with some injuries.

While the Bengals brought back Eli Apple and could still draft a cornerback, they need to find an experienced veteran who can come in and start immediately. Gilmore is that guy. Go get him, Bengals.

2. Bobby Wagner

One of the best remaining overall free agents is Bobby Wagner and he’d give the Bengals defense a nice pop. Wagner spent the entirety of his 10-year career with the Seahawks but they released him in shocking fashion after the Russell Wilson trade.

While the Bengals’ linebacker corp is pretty good, there’s always room for improvement. Wagner has never had fewer than 100 tackles in a single season and he’d be able to get after not only Watson but Nick Chubb and the Browns rushing attack.

1. Za’Darius Smith

The Ravens’ loss needs to be the Bengals’ gain. Za’Darius Smith had initially agreed on a deal with the Ravens but on Thursday it was reported that he backed out of the deal. Smith only appeared in one game for the Packers last year but when healthy, he provides a terrifying pass-rushing presence. He notched 12.5 sacks in 2020 and 13.5 sacks in 2019.

The Bengals have a good pass-rush led by Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard but Smith would make them even better. He’s an absolute must-target for the Bengals now that Watson is in the division.

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So what are you waiting for, Bengals? Go get these guys so that we can stop the “Browns are Super Bowl champs” talk over the offseason.