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2012 NFL Free Agents: Wide Receivers Who Could Be Cincinnati Bengals in 2012

Matt GrayContributor IFebruary 13, 2012

2012 NFL Free Agents: Wide Receivers Who Could Be Cincinnati Bengals in 2012

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    The Cincinnati Bengals enter the 2012 offseason having to yet again address the wide receiver position.

    After shipping off Chad Ochocinco and signing a new No. 1 in the form of A.J. Green, the position seemed to be set with Jerome Simpson stepping up at No. 2.

    However, it all proved too good to be true as Jerome Simpson went and got himself in trouble with the law, via a drugs bust (as reportso embarrassing even "the play of the year" couldn't make us forget about it.

    It brought to light the Bengals' need for a veteran presence in their receiving corps, something Marvin Lewis is helped out with by there being a good crop of talented receivers available.

    So with Simpson likely to face jail time, who could the Bengals recruit to shore up the wide receiver position?

    Let's take a look...

Mario Manningham

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    Fresh off a Super Bowl title, Mario Manningham could be looking for a new home and a bigger contract in 2012. 

    As the No. 3 receiver in New York, behind Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, Manningham is unlikely to be paid the money he desires.

    This could make him a top prize in free agency, and someone the Cincinnati Bengals could really use.

    Manningham was limited to 39 catches for 523 yards in only 12 games in 2011 partly due to injury. But it has to be remembered that he did put up 60 catches for 944 yards and nine TDs in 2010.

    He has a few years over the rest of the Bengals receivers and would provide a safe pair of hands for Andy Dalton. 

    It was Mario's clinical game-sealing catch on Super Bowl Sunday that will color offseason interest. He proved he can make the key play when necessary, something the Bengals haven't had in Jerome Simpson.

Robert Meachem

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    With Drew Brees, Marques Colston and Carl Nicks all higher up in the pecking order than Robert Meachem, No. 17 will likely be in a new city in 2012.

    He's a fast guy, clocking 4.39 at the combine in 2007; he would provide ample threat on the outside, and is a reliable route-runner with good hands.

    With limited playing time in New Orleans, he has amassed 23 TDs, a respectable total considering Brees' penchant for spreading it around.

    He only managed 40 receptions for 620 yards in 2011, but with so many threats on the New Orleans Saints roster, you can see why he may have been neglected. 

    The main warning sign surrounding Meachem is that his success could be attributed to opposing defenses focusing on Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston, often leaving Meachem in single coverage.

    Andy Dalton may well build the same rapport with Jermaine Gresham and A.J. Green but it remains a work in progress.

    If Meachem is going to succeed in Cincy, he needs to be able to win battles and make plays.

Marques Colston

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    Marques Colston could also be a victim of the Saints need to bring back Carl Nicks and Drew Brees. 

    If the Saints can't re-sign Nicks, they will slap a franchise tag on him, making Colston more likely to go elsewhere.

    Colston has the veteran experience the Bengals sorely need, and with five 1,000-yard seasons under his belt during his six-year career, Colston is still very much on top of his game.

    He scored 9 TDs in 2011, continuing his and Brees' illustrious partnership. With Brees getting a big deal, it's unlikely that Colston will accept anything less than top-receiver money, making him a prime target to jump ship.

    Andy Dalton and the young offense would benefit from a veteran presence in the passing game and Colston would be all that and more.

    He remains a long shot due to his potential price tag, and of course the prospect that he could still remain a Saint when all is said and done.

Pierre Garcon

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    Both Pierre Garcon and Reggie Wayne are likely to test the market in 2012.

    However, it seemed that 33-year-old Wayne had lost a step in 2011, and left us wondering whether he can ever be as productive without Peyton Manning throwing him the ball.

    So let's look at Garcon.

    With four years of experience under his belt and hitting the age of 26 before the 2012 season kicks off, Garcon may be wary of re-signing with the Indianapolis Colts considering how far they may be from contending once more.

    The Bengals are a few pieces away from building a championship contender making them an attractive destination for him, and it wouldn't be too far of a move for Garcon who has strong ties with the Indianapolis community.

    Without  Manning calling the shots in 2011, Garcon registered 70 receptions, 947 yards and six touchdowns—a career high—an impressive feat when you consider how woeful a season the Colts had.

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