Now that the Super Bowl is over, we turn our attention to what’s going to happen to the Bengals in a most important offseason…
Just as Patrick Mahomes was receiving the Super Bowl MVP award, all of Bengaldom collectively moved past the big game and to April 23. That is the day they should be welcoming their best chance at a Super Bowl caliber quarterback since Carson Palmer, in Joe Burrow.
The Bengals absolutely MUST pick Joe Burrow. There’s not a reasonable trade that an NFL franchise would actually do that would convince me otherwise. Now that I have that out of the way, let’s move on. The real important part of this offseason is what ELSE they do. Make no mistake about it, they must do lots.
The Bengals have this fantastic ability, and track record of using said ability, to hope that current players improve. They also have a fantastic an consistently proven ability to do absolutely nothing in free agency. Both of these have to change. Last year, when bringing Zac Taylor on board, the Bengals coined the motto “New Dey.” This is when they need to put their money where their motto is. Here are a few mindsets the Bengals should adopt.
They need at least three starting-caliber linebackers on the roster. Remember the beginning of last season when they really only had two bonafide linebackers on their active roster? Yeah, can’t do that again. They absolutely must add another athletic, coverage-type linebacker, and preferably through free agency. Germaine Pratt had a nice end to the 2019 season, but the coaching staff was reluctant to give him any meaningful snaps through the first half of the year. No matter what sort of backer talent is available with pick 33, they need to allocate some dollars towards established talent at the linebacker position. Pratt is nice, but he is definitely the best linebacker on the roster, with a steep drop off to Nick Vigil. After that…well, yeah, they need to add some more talent there.
It’s time to move on from the veteran reclamation projects on the offensive line. I know they can’t replace all of them in one offseason, but with Trey Hopkins establishing himself as a competent center and the return (or arrival, depending on how you look at it) of the promising Jonah Williams, they have talent at two of the five spots. Stop pretending Bobby Hart, John Jerry, John Miller, or Cordy Glenn are going to be anything but mediocre. There is more than likely going to be options to spend money on in free agency to put on the other side of Williams, and maybe a few options at guard. Hell, maybe Andrew Whitworth would be open to a reunion. At any rate, making the offensive line something to count on, rather than hoping it can improve, should be objective 1-B of the offseason.
Pay AJ Green. Look, I get it. He’s been banged up, he’s not getting any younger, and may be past the prime of his career. He would still be an amazing weapon to have for Burrow’s introduction to professional pigskin. He’s no longer in the conversation for top wideout in the league, I’ll grant the naysayers that, but he’s definitely top-10. If you keep him, and he’s healthy, the receiving corp doesn’t need to be touched. In fact, lock up AJ and you take cate of the skill positions (except for TE) for 2020. Then they can keep their focus on the above two points.
Lots must be done, but they can turn this thing around in a heartbeat if they actually do them. Will the Bengals actually break out of their weird shell of refusing to spend money in free agency? Yeah, no idea…