I wish I could report that the Bengals were as active over the weekend as some other teams (like the Eagles). But let’s take a look at what did happen so far in changes to the roster.
Draft Picks: All 8 draft picks, including top picks WR A.J. Green and QB Andy Dalton, were signed before the start of camp. This is something that the Bengals’ front office has not managed to get done with their draft picks in many years, even with months to negotiate between the draft and the start of camp. So the fact that they inked all 8 players in 3 days is an historic feat.
Retained Free Agents: The Bengals have re-signed a substantial number of players, including RB Cedric Benson on a 1 year deal, RB Cedric Peerman, RB Brian Leonard, QB Jordan Palmer, WR Quan Cosby, C Kyle Cook, LS Clark Harris, S Gibril Wilson, S Tom Nelson and LB Dan Skuta. For unknown reasons they inexplicably re-signed OL Nate Livings and OL Dennis Roland.
Of this list, I like the signing of Cook best, a solid grinder of a center who has anchored the line well the last two seasons in the wake of the disaster named Eric Ghiaciuc. I am not happy, however, that LB Brandon Johnson’s name is not on this list. Considering the lack of depth at LB right now, Johnson and every other decent linebacker that they can get to pick up the phone ought to be brought in.
Players Lost: Most among the Bengals faithful rejoiced to hear that WR Chad Ochocinco was traded to the Patriots, even if it was for a couple of late round picks. Then Bengals fans everywhere moaned to hear that CB Johnathan Joseph signed with the Houston Texans (telling the Houston media that leaving the Bengals was a “no-brainer” even though he had stated that he wanted to return to Cincinnati). The Bengals also opted to bring an early end to their commitment with DE Antwan Odom as well as WR Shay Hodge and K Clint Stitser.
Free Agents Added: The Bengals addressed the glaring lack of experience at the most important position on the field by signing QB Bruce Gradkowski, who ran Jon Gruden’s offense in Tampa Bay, which should be reasonably similar to Jay Gruden’s style and make him a good teacher/fill-in for Andy Dalton. They also responded to the kick-in-the-nads loss of Joseph by bringing in CB Nate Clements, a better replacement than I expected to see. And LB Thomas Howard was signed to a position that needs even further bolstering to avoid another 2006-like season.
In the head-scratcher file, OL Deuce Lutui was added to bring power to the running game, but his contract was voided when he failed his physical because of weight issues. We have to wonder, with the tubs of butter this team has signed–Andre Smith, Sam Adams, Jeremi Johnson–exactly how overweight does a guy have to be to flunk a physical by the Bengals? Even so, the Cardinals promptly gave Deuce a new contract.
Hopefully there is more work to be done in this area. Besides needing help at linebacker, they are still in significant need of a guy or two for the offensive line as well as a safety. (James Walker likes that they are talking to Donte Whitner.) IMO, a decent fullback would be a good addition, too.