Cincinnati Bengals: A Busy Offseason Yields Big Expectations For Upcoming Season
The Cincinnati Bengals have had one of the most busy offseasons in franchise history, and it most certainly will benefit a team that struggled to win last season.
It seems that Mike Brown and company finally got tired of losing. The turnaround all started when the Bengals re-signed safety Chris Crocker back in February. Crocker was arguably the best man on a Bengals defense that finished 12th overall last season. His signing sparked a frenzy of Bengals transactions in 2009.
Soon after the Crocker signing, the Bengals re-signed tailback Cedric Benson. Benson, signed during the middle of the 2008 season, showed much promise in the last three games of the year.
One day after Benson signed, the Bengals hauled in wide receiver Laveranues Coles. The Coles signing was in light of the departure of T.J. Houshmandzadeh to Seattle.
The Bengals continued to add depth to their roster by signing quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan in March. His signing came after backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started 12 games for the Bengals after Carson Palmer went down, left for Buffalo. The Bengals were looking for another QB with potential in case Palmer's elbow injury doesn't hold up.
After adding many players to the offensive side of the ball, the Bengals looked to improve a young defense by signing defensive tackle Tank Johnson. Johnson, a six year vet out of Washington, looks to challenge for a starting spot on the Bengals defensive line in 2009.
Linebacker Brandon Johnson, who arrived in Cincinnati from Arizona last year, was re-signed to add depth to a usually banged up linebacking core.
In addition, the Bengals recently signed the once most feared hitter in the NFL, Roy E Williams from Dallas. The Williams signing looks to add competition at the safety position. This is also a great move for the Bengals given that Roy Williams was successful under defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's tenure in Dallas.
Other than free-agent signings, the Bengals added much needed help via the NFL draft in April.
They arguably had the best draft in 2009 of any team.
They added much needed help on the offensive line, by drafting tackle Andre Smith with the sixth pick, as well as center Jonathan Luigs in the third round. They also added another offensive weapon for Palmer in tight end Chase Coffman from Missouri.
In addition to addressing offensive needs, the Bengals drafted linebacker Rey Maualuga and defensive end Michael Johnson, both first round talents.
Also, they drafted Cincinnati native punter Kevin Huber. Huber, a left footed punter, will provide the Bengals with a great special teams threat.
The 2009 offseason for the Bengals has yielded speculation that this Bengals team will contend in the upcoming season. This team is coming off of a four win season, in spite of losing All-Pro quarterback Carson Palmer to an elbow injury.
This is also the same team that returns much of a young defense that finished 12th in the NFL last season. The Bengals are a team that has added 40 new men since 2006.
In light of the free-agent signings and the draft picks, it certainly looks like there will be a rumble in the jungle for Cincinnati in 2009.
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