The Cincinnati Bengals are notorious for skimpy spending in free agency, draft busts and general blunders in the front office. But things seem to have changed recently, as the Bengals have become quite the savvy team.
They have already signed many (albeit unsexy) players to add depth, they have had three consecutive excellent drafts and Mike Brown miraculously dealt the intractable Carson Palmer for a king’s ransom.
The tide is turning in Cincinnati, and with the most cap space in the NFL, the Bengals still have the dough to ink some great players that could tremendously help their chances for success in the future. Here’s a look at some free agents the Bengals should pursue.
The only restricted free agent the Bengals should pursue is also arguably the best. Wallace has been unbelievably successful in his first three years with the Steelers, averaging 1,068 yards and eight touchdowns a season. His stats are fantastic, but his big-play ability cannot be valued in numbers.
I take that back, it can be valued with the No. 1. The Bengals would have to give the Steelers a first-round draft pick to sign Wallace, but I would argue that’s an incredible steal. Whoever the Bengals choose in the first round, there are no guarantees that player will pan out.
Wallace has more than panned out. Inking Wallace would be that missing sexy signing and would give the Bengals the best young receiving duo in the NFL.
Rogers is a huge presence that could shore up an already beefy defensive tackle rotation. This depth would be big for Rogers as well, as he has always had a bit of a conditioning problem.
Sensabaugh is simply solid. He won’t wow you in any particular category, but he is good against the run and he is good enough against the pass. He’s a vet that has been consistent throughout his career and only had one season where he was injured.
A pro’s pro, Sensabaugh would add some much-needed depth at the safety position.
Free agency isn’t just about signing players; it’s also about re-signing them. The Bengals have done a good job with that so far, but this signing would be the most controversial.
Due to his perchance for a leafy green plant, Simpson will likely serve a four-game suspension, maybe more. Having said that, he is still worth signing because of the investment the Bengals have already made, his freak athleticism and his growing chance of being great.
Hell, his phenomenal flip into the end zone alone warrants him an opportunity for more time with the franchise that developed him.
Brown provides a great opportunity for a position battle with Kyle Cook. I believe he would win that battle, upgrading the center position for Cincinnati and avoiding using a draft pick on a position that is extremely hit or miss.
Brown is very battle-tested, has only missed two games in his career and above all else, he is smart. He could be a nice addition for the Bengals.
Hayes is a freakishly athletic linebacker that has played very well for the Bucs since being selected in the sixth round. He’s undersized, but the Bengals' mammoth defensive line can hide that flaw.
Hayes is young and can still develop into a better player. With the trading of Keith Rivers, Cincinnati needs linebackers. Hayes could provide depth.
How bout a good old-fashioned swap? The Patriots got Jonathan Fanene, the Bengals can get Carter.
Carter is coming off a solid season in which he recorded 52 tackles and an impressive 10 sacks. He still has a few good years left in the tank and would be a nice vet to have around. Carter is good at setting the edge and while he lacks a bull rush, he can still muster up quite the speed rush.
Signing Carter would be big.
Naanee has never really had a great season, but he has talent. He possesses good hands, great size and surprising speed for someone that weighs 220 pounds. Naanee will never be a star, but he could thrive in the right environment.
Cincinnati could be that milieu.
He’s a project that is yet to be completed, as he was a college quarterback. Naanee is a unique talent who hasn’t hit his ceiling, and he would be an interesting project for the Bengals to undertake.
Although Foxworth missed last season with a serious injury, he has been healthy in the past. Pending a thorough physical from team doctors, he could be a nice addition.
He can defend the run and react well to the pass and most importantly, he brings toughness to the cornerback position in Cincinnati. It gives the defense more versatility with schemes by having that physical presence.
He’s never going to be a quality starter again, but he definitely is a good leader and vet for the CB the Bengals will inevitably draft in the first round.
McIntosh is a solid linebacker that lacks speed and agility but makes up for it with his ability as a tackling machine. He’s stayed healthy, is still young and can develop into a better backer.
All in all, McIntosh is a safe sign that could step in and immediately contribute to a linebacking corps.