Following a 10-6 regular season and a second straight first-round exit from the playoffs, the Cincinnati Bengals went to work to solidify a talented young roster in preparation for increased success in the AFC North this season.
Having made tremendous strides in the last two seasons, the Bengals didn’t need to make any drastic changes. With the changing shape of the division (as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens retooled aging rosters), Cincinnati was already in good position to challenge for the division crown in 2013.
As such, the Bengals didn’t need to make a big splash in free agency. Despite having plenty of cap space to make additions, they opted, instead, to focus on in-house affairs and adding additional talent through the draft.
And they did extremely well at that.
With few glaring positional needs and a big opportunity to add to a terrific cast of youthful talent, Cincinnati went to work from the first round to the last in identifying value and making the most of its selections. When all was said and done, the Bengals had put together one of the most impressive draft classes of any team in the league.
We’ll evaluate those selections later in this article.
While the Bengals didn’t make a lot of free-agent deals, they did re-up linebacker Rey Maualuga to a new two-year contract and gave offensive tackle Andre Smith a new three-year, $18 million deal to stay with the team.
In addition, Cincinnati added former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison after the division rivals chose to cut ties. Harrison has struggled with injury issues the last couple seasons, but he still has plenty to offer to a team looking to usurp the Steelers and Ravens as the preeminent AFC North powerhouse.
But there really wasn’t much more free-agent activity to speak of. The Bengals didn’t need to make a big splash in free agency, and that continuity will prove to be a major factor in the team’s sustained success.
We’ll take a closer look at additional offseason moves in the following slideshow, as well as a detailed analysis of the Bengals’ draft class and a few positions to keep an eye on as the season draws near. Read on.