August 1, 2014

Focus On: Wide Receivers

It’s one year later, and the question remains the same: who is the #2 receiver? That fact that we could list at least three names is evidence that there still isn’t one. This isn’t the only question facing the offense this off-season, but failing to find a good answer will continue the inconsistency in the passing game.

A.J. Green: signed through 2014
What can I say about him that your eyes haven’t already told you? He is a team player and won’t gripe if he has to play one more year under his rookie deal. With all of the money they will be spending on Johnson, Smith, Atkins, etc, they will need enough room left to offer him something like a 7-year/$60M+ deal.

Mohamed Sanu: signed through 2015
Expectations will be high in 2013. Surprisingly, he only logged 153 yds before going on IR. But with 4 TDs in 16 catches, the kid is clutch. There were rumors of him being poor in practice, which sounds way too much like Jerome Simpson for my liking. If he learns an appreciation for preparation like Geno Atkins did in his first off-season, we could be in for a real treat next year.

Marvin Jones: signed through 2015
Tall and fast, the tangibles work in his favor. But he just hasn’t wowwed us as much as I’d hoped. Many receivers need a year of seasoning, so perhaps 2013 will be his breakout year. He caught for more yards than Sanu, but with only 1 TD (in the season-ending scrimmage game against the Ravens), those yards are simply more forgettable. Not fair, but true.

Andrew Hawkins: restricted free agent
Hish height works against him, but he makes good things happen when he has the ball. He more than doubled his production from 2011, but it still seems like Gruden could further work him into the offense with more screens and misdirection plays (basically extended runs). However, he won’t ever be the #2WR.

Brandon Tate: unrestricted free agent
How was this guy ever a preseason contender for the #2WR? We’ve seen enough to know we’ve seen too much.

Ryan Whalen: signed through 2014
There is a lot standing between Whalen and playing time. He’s currently the fifth man in a 6-man group. With the decent shot that the Bengals draft another guy to move him down the depth chart (again), what if they swung a trade with the Colts–who might like to reunite him with Andrew Luck–perhaps for guy like DB Josh Gordy or RB Donald Brown? Oh well.

Dane Sanzenbacher: signed through 2013
He will be a battler in camp, but he will get a shot to see what he can do.

Vidal Hazelton: unrestricted free agent
The signs are not good for the Haze. He’s run out his eligibility for the practice squad, and he lost out to Sanzenbacher–a guy not even on the team–when they needed to another WR. He might be better served trying to catch on with a team like Miami who has a bigger need at the position.

Free Agent Wish List
Free agency is unlikely to be the way that the Bengals address their need at this position. It’s doubtful they spend the cheddar to bring in a guy, considering their own guys they have to re-sign. And with names like Antonio Bryant and Laveranues Coles such recent memories, who can blame them for being skittish? But let’s have some fun anyway.

How sweet would it be to bring in Dwayne Bowe? Fans would high-five in the streets, the talking heads would have an aneurysm, and defensive coordinators would run to change their shorts. Also, an OSU alum like Brian Hartline might enjoy returning to the Buckeye State. He would be a true #2WR in every aspect of the game. And Greg Jennings‘ name is getting plenty of run in Bengals circles, and why shouldn’t he? He would be quite an asset when the Packers come to town. And in the other 15 games too.

[Oh, and to all of those who knocked my recommendation last year to bring in Reggie Wayne... TTTHHHHHHPPPP!!! But I still love ya anyway.]

Draft Options
I see the #53 pick as a prime spot for the Bengals to target a WR. I found guys like Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter of Tennessee, Da’Rick Rogers of Tennessee Tech and Markus Wheaton of Oregon State graded to be available around that time according to different Big Boards. I’m not a draft expert, but they all look to have the kind of size that the Bengals like. The real question is whether the war room believes they need a receiver this high.