Cincinnati Bengals: The 5 Best and Worst Offseason Moves
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The NFL is deep into offseason mode with teams hitting the field for minicamps and OTAs. Training camp is still two-and-a-half months away, but for most teams, the roster appears to be set.
With that in mind, this is a good time to take a look back at the Cincinnati Bengals' offseason so far. The Bengals are coming off a second-straight playoff appearance and are one of the up-and-coming teams in the league.
A lot of what the Bengals have done this offseason has been applauded, but not every move they made was a great one. Let's take a look at the best and worst moves the team has made.
Signing James Harrison
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One of the positions that the Bengals needed to upgrade was linebacker, and they achieved that when they signed the former Pittsburgh Steelers star.
There are downsides to the signing. Harrison is getting old and has been plagued with injuries in recent seasons. It can also be argued that fellow free agent Karlos Dansby would have made more sense in defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's system.
But Harrison brings a pedigree and attitude to a team that desperately needed both. How much impact Harrison makes on the field is yet to be seen, but his impact in the locker room should be apparent immediately.
Re-signing Rey Maualuga
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The Bengals made re-signing their own free agents a priority this offseason, and that includes bringing back the much-maligned Rey Maualuga.
Maualuga has struggled at times during his three seasons in Cincinnati, and whether or not his re-signing is a good move is yet to be seen. On one hand, Maualuga had a terrible season. On the other hand, he won't cost the Bengals much money.
Maualuga is one player who should benefit from playing next to James Harrison. Maybe he can finally reach the level of play that was predicted of him.
Re-signing Andre Smith
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Like Rey Maualuga, offensive tackle Andre Smith has been under fire from Bengals fans from nearly the moment he was drafted. But unlike Maualuga, Smith has emerged as one of the best players at his position.
Smith was a free agent, and thanks to questions about his work ethic and injury history, he didn't have many suitors. But there is no denying that Smith makes the Bengals a better team, and re-signing him allowed the Bengals to avoid drafting a tackle in the upper rounds last month.
Not Upgrading at Safety
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There were several areas that the Bengals needed to upgrade in the offseason, but none was as pressing as safety. Despite the need, the Bengals whiffed on signing a free agent such as Ed Reed and then waited until the third round before drafting a safety.
As a result, the safety position remains a large question mark. Reggie Nelson will start at one spot, but the other will be an open competition between rookie Shawn Williams and several veterans. Who knows? Maybe Chris Crocker will come back once again to man the position.
Drafting a Speed Back
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The Bengals got a nice season from BenJarvus Green-Ellis last season but were in desperate need of a back who could change the game and bring a new dimension to the offense.
While many clamored for the Bengals to take Alabama's Eddie Lacy in the draft, he would not have provided the change of pace that the team so desperately needed. Enter North Carolina's Giovani Bernard, a legitimate burner who is also an excellent receiver who the Bengals nabbed in the second round.
Bernard could prove to be the Bengals' best move of the offseason and a legitimate difference-maker this season.