3 ways Bengals can build upon an already-strong offseason
Locking Down the Future
Time for the Bengals to ante up and secure the core of the team. The 2020 draft, the most successful draft in team history, brought a nucleus of winners to the Bengals. Not only the incomparable Joe Burrow, but, Tee Higgins and Logan Wilson came in as well.
Keeping that core together will be difficult, especially considering the impending payday next year of Uno himself, Ja'Marr Chase, who is likely to be paid as one of the top two or three receivers in the game.
The Bengals will have the unenviable job of paying possibly the largest contract in history for a franchise quarterback, paying a number one receiver that is playing as a number two, and a top-rated linebacker all in one offseason. To do this, they will have to negotiate cap flexibility into the deals and still keep their stars happy.
Talk about mission impossible. If Katie Blackburn can pull this off then she may be the Bengals MVP next year. Luckily her family owns the team so she can't go anywhere, but, the cap gymnastics of this with guarantees, years, escalators, roster bonuses, is staggering.
Job number one and the key to the whole shebang starts with Burrow. He looks to make $50+ million per year and rightly should be the highest-paid player in the league. A deal will be expected as Mike Brown always pays his signal-callers. The key will be to get Burrow his bag and keep the flexibility to be able to put talent around him.
Higgins will be the biggest challenge as he is represented by David Mulugheta who infamously tried to get a deal done with the Bengals on behalf of Jesse Bates for three seasons. He's a true believer in guaranteed money he is diametrically opposite to how the Bengals run their team.
Higgins, unlike Bates, is in a position the Bengals value highly, and it's an excellent fit in both character and talent. He also loves being in Cincinnati, so if there is a way to break through the David Mulugheta issue, Higgins will be the one.
Wilson is more of an under-the-radar contract to get done. He is not a household name like the others, but, plugged a hole the Bengals had for years as a linebacker that can credibly cover a receiver in a pinch.
For many years the Bengals type at linebacker was run-stuffing thumpers. Wilson can do that, but, fits the modern game so much better and is a key to Lou Anarumo's system. Getting a deal done for him will be more reasonable than Burrow and Higgins, but, with linebackers making $20 million a year after Roquan Smith's deal, it won't be cheap.
Get this right and the Bengals are securing a Super Bowl window that will stretch for years. Nothing will make the Bengals more successful than this first step. Of course, there is a downside to paying all that money out and securing the core.