Over the weekend, my frustration was beginning to mount as many teams made free agent moves while the Bengals sat idle. Well, the Bengals’ front office have finally found first gear and have begun to pile a few free agents into Mike Brown’s mighty Ford Fiesta.
I wouldn’t call free agency a big win as of yet, but it is no longer the failure it felt like a few days ago. Let’s review:
Wide Receiver: not done. The best way to fill the “Y” receiver spot was with an experienced, productive receiver. The popular names signed quickly for pretty lucrative deals. Perhaps the Bengals’ reluctance to overpay will prove to be smart for now, but it also leaves them choosing between guys already on the roster and a possible draft pick to fill the spot. Hopefully someone steps up and impresses us, because none of them have the resume for the spot right now.
Running Back: added BenJarvis Green-Ellis. Showing zero interest in Cedric Benson was the first right move of free agency. Signing a recognizable name like BJGE is the kind of good PR this team can use. I would not be surprised if the Bengals still target a RB in round 3 or 4 (Isaiah Pead maybe?) even though it would cause a numbers crunch. But this move seems to me to take them out of the hunt for Trent Richardson (whom I doubt gets past the Jets at #16 anyway.) BJGE is a solid workhorse and chain-mover, even if he is not the type to rip off long runs, and has good hands with zero fumbles in his NFL career to date.
Offensive Line: added Travelle Wharton. Letting Livings and McGlynn walk was improvement by subtraction, and Wharton should be a nice pick up. I wouldn’t mind seeing Bobbie Williams back for one more year, strictly as a backup for depth, and drafting another guard is a big need. Getting Anthony Collins back again would be a major league move in my book, and the odds of that improve each day he remains unsigned.
Defensive Line: lost Fanene and Rucker, Sims remains unsigned. My opinion was that getting two of the three back was needed, but that won’t happen. Seeing Rucker go to the Cleveland Skids stinks, but I’m not sure if he will thrive as a starter. Unless the Bengals feel that Nick Hayden is ready to step up, they need to get Sims back and add one of the decent number of solid free agents still available.
Linebacker: Manny Lawson remains unsigned. The options at LB were pretty sparse, so it is surprising that Lawson is still on the market. The Bengals must be fairly comfortable with Muckelroy, Moch or Rivers, because they are playing a dangerous game of chicken with Lawson at a position that has been a weak spot for quite a while.
Secondary: re-signed Reggie Nelson, added Jason Allen. The back field is in significant need with Crocker falling off and Hall questionable as he mends his Achilles injury. The Bengals could try to play a Ravens/Steelers style of game with a dominant rush and mediocre backs, but they really don’t have good enough LBs for that. They seem to be collecting busted former first round CBs at a prolific rate. If they want a dominant CB, they are going to have to draft one.