Perhaps I’m the only one who has baby bottles all over the house and understands the wordplay in the headline. But I digress.
Just as in many years before, the Bengals did not bring in a big name during free agency. Their roster moves couldn’t really be considered a splash, providing little more than minor water displacement. However, the team upgraded almost every position on the roster. Travelle Wharton is an upgrade over Nate Livings. BJGE (Benjarvis Green-Ellis) is a younger, more reliable player than Cedric Benson, even if he’s slightly less explosive. Jason Allen is an upgrade over Kelly Jennings, and he can possibly play safety as well, strengthening that position too. Reggie Kelly and Pat Sims were re-signed.
And then we get to the players I’m most excited about, Jamal Anderson and Derrick Harvey. Yes, I’m fully aware that both players have underperformed and underwhelmed during their brief NFL careers. But let’s not forget that both had enough natural ability to become first-round picks. And let’s also not forget that we have a fire-breathing defensive coordinator who has already revived a few careers and turned lesser players into legitimate contributors. (Remember the street free agent secondary we had two years ago?).
I’m convinced that Zimmer and company can find some magic with one of the players if not both. And both guys are younger, cheaper, and perhaps better pass rushers than Jon Fanene and Frostee Rucker, the guys they will replace. Paying big money for backups would have been reckless considering the number of Bengals who will become free agents in the next few years. Thus, the team made some prudent moves.
In the end, the Bengals put themselves in a perfect situation for next month’s draft. They have no glaring needs. If the season started tomorrow, the players they already have would make them legitimate competitors in the AFC North. But soon, they can add to their roster a wealth of draft picks, including two in the first round. And at each spot, they can ignore needs and simply take the best player available (BPA).
They made shrewd moves in free agency.
And so in the draft, they’re free for BPA.