We’re about a month away from the beginning of free agency (March 13th), where the Bengals will likely sign a few players to fill in some holes before the draft. One of the team’s targets should certainly be wide receiver. With Jerome Simpson’s status uncertain due to legal troubles, the team needs a player to start opposite A.J. Green. In my mind, it makes more sense to find that player in free agency rather than the draft.
An older receiver is a more proven commodity and should be able to make an immediate contribution in 2012. Here are a few players that would be logical targets for the Bengals next month.
1) Robert Meachem – Meachem’s talents have been somewhat minimized by a Saints offense that spreads the ball around and doesn’t focus on any particular receiver. However, he’s a young player with good deep speed and he’s accustomed to being a No. 2 receiver, so there shouldn’t be any ego conflicts with A.J. Green. There’s also a great chance he will be available since the Saints also have to re-sign Marques Colston as well.
2) Pierre Garcon – The Colts may attempt to re-sign Garcon, but if he’s available, the Bengals should definitely consider him. He has good ability after the catch – which is important in a West Coast offense – and enough experience to be a valuable contributor. He’s also got some pretty good size and is used to being a No. 2 as well.
3) Harry Douglas – While not being perhaps a sexy acquisition, Douglas did catch 39 passes as a third or fourth option in Atlanta. He has decent size (6-feet, 183) and would likely be effective enough as a bigger part of the Bengals offense.
4) Mario Manningham – Like Douglas, Manningham was the third option in his offense and didn’t produce a whole lot of receptions last season (39). However, he’s also only 25 years old and has produced some big games when others have been out with an injury. I like the idea of another explosive receiver opposite Green, because whoever it is will see a lot of one-on-one matchups with Green and Jermaine Gresham also on the field.
Any of the players above seem more appealing to me than a draft pick at the receiver position. Most of the guys above will be entering the prime of their career and should have plenty of knowledge and experience to adjust to a new offense. The Bengals’ free agency targets are hard to predict, but the receivers above would be pretty good fits in the offense. Don’t be surprised if one of the is in a Bengals uniform in 2012.