While the Bengals were notorious for keeping around players well past their prime in the Marvin Lewis era, let’s take a look at some players in recent years that the Bengals should have kept on the roster.
Lawson was electric the last year of his rookie contract, but the Zac Taylor front office decided to part ways with him, making way for free agent notable Trey Hendrickson. Although both moves were heavily criticized at the time as it appeared Cincinnati was scrambling to sign any edge rusher.
Following the departure of Lawson, Hendrickson has been efficient in Cincinnati, earning a Pro Bowl nod in back-to-back years. However, Lawson’s eight sacks in 2022 could have been the juice the Bengals needed to get past the Chiefs in the AFC Championship.
Although the Red Rifle chose to sign with his home state team in the Cowboys following the Bengals’ 2-win season, Dalton could have been a great backup and mentor for Burrow. Noodle arm aside, he helped show Justin Fields the ropes two seasons ago, and he is now under contract with the Carolina Panthers again in that mentor-backup role to Bryce Young.
Although pride certainly affected his departure, Dalton would have been a great mentor for Burrow in his first two years and a better player than Brandon Allen. He helped the Bengals to five playoff games and deserves to retire as a Bengal.
Perine has been developing extremely well as a pass-catching back while on the Bengals in recent years, with his departure to Denver hurting the team. The former Bengal has been productive when Mixon has been ruled out, rushing for 465 yards and four touchdowns on 100 carries in thirteen games.
This past offseason, Perine signed a two-year $7.5 million contract with the Broncos. With the Bengals having the fifth-most cap space in the league, re-signing Perine could have secured the running back room for another deep playoff run. Instead, the Bengals put all their eggs into Mixon who has been in legal situations this offseason, paired with fifth-round rookie Chase Brown.
Cincinnati has been a stalwart on not signing a veteran running back currently on the market, believing in Mixon. With the Bengals being thin in the running back room, re-signing Perine should have been a priority at his current contract.