On the eve of free agency, the Bengals are sitting at a crossroads. They had a good regular season, but then suffered a disappointing loss to the Jets at home. Now, they look towards next season and move past that.
The Bengals have lots of spots already filled but, the free agency combined with the draft, could give them the final few pieces they need to be a contender.
This is probably the biggest need for the Bengals this off-season. After the tragic death of Chris Henry, it left a huge hole in the team, mentally, physically, and depth wise.
With Chad Ochocinco as the clear number one, there is a hole from there. Laveranues Coles just isn’t what he used to be. Since they cut him, they need to sign somebody even more. Also, Andre Caldwell is not ready to step up and be the number 2 receiver.
Therefore, they need to look at these three free agents to fill that void:
101 Receptions, 1,120 Yards and 10 Touchdowns with Denver
Without question, he is the most high-profile free agent this offseason. He has been a catching machine, catching 100 plus passes each of the last 3 seasons. He is the big play receiver that rivals Ochocinco, and with Marshall lining up across from him, that could be a tandem for the record books.
The one thing that could be stopping the signing would be the tender. Denver put a first round tender on Marshall, and it’s not very likely that the Bengals would be willing to part with their first pick to grab him.
45 Receptions, 730 Yards and 5 Touchdowns with Kansas City and San Diego
While he had a declining season, Chambers was still very productive. He wasn’t featured much in San Diego but, in Kansas City, he flourished being the number one receiver.
This showed the other teams that he can be a standout wide-out, with good vertical attack. He’s built to be a number 2 receiver and would fit right in at Cincinnati.
55 Receptions, 829 Yards and 5 Touchdowns with Buffalo
Finally, Owens is a decent fit. While he had a subpar year (by his lofty standards), it didn’t help that his quarterbacks were less than stellar. However, while he was paired with Pro-Bowl caliber Quarterbacks like Tony Romo and Donovan McNabb, he had amazing numbers. If he teams up with Carson Palmer, there’s no telling what kind of numbers he’d put up.
Plus, Ochocinco has been campaigning for him to come to Cincinnati, which does have some weight. The ownership wants to keep him happy so it’s a good chance that Chad will get his wish.
Derrick Mason – 73 Receptions, 1,028 Yards and 7 Touchdowns
While he’s not a clear number one receiver, he would fit nicely on the outside as a deep threat.
Davone Bess – 76 Receptions, 758 and 2 Touchdowns
He could be a great slot receiver. He is still young and with Ochocinco, he could learn a lot.
Jason Avant – 41 Receptions, 587 Yards and 3 Touchdowns
Avant could also fit into the slot. He is a workhorse and would catch a lot of balls.
The tight end position has been an interesting one for the Bengals. They don’t really have a pass-catching threat but to be fair, they haven’t for some time. Reggie Kelly has caught some passes in his career, but he isn’t always a viable target.
Kelly is getting older, which is why they drafted Chase Coffman, which hasn’t so far lived up to his potential. While they won’t be looking very hard for a pass catching tight end, there are two that they could easily pick up:
31 Receptions, 416 Yards and 2 Touchdowns for Denver
Scheffler was an under producer last season for Denver. He wasn’t really a factor much in the passing attack, because Marshall was the main focus. However, that is not to say that he cannot be a factor somewhere else. He is a pretty good blocker and will be able to catch passes if needed.
Plus, he is only 4 years into his career, so there is a chance that he could stick around for some time. The only thing again stopping them from signing him is the tender.
He has a second round tender on him, and it is unlikely they are willing to give up that pick because with the draft, they can take a more productive player.
29 Receptions, 404 Yards and 5 Touchdowns for New England
Watson is a more likely choice if they want a free agent to sign. He caught 5 touchdowns for New England last year, which is a good sign since he is on the same team as Randy Moss and Wes Welker.
Most of his touchdowns were in the red zone, so it makes him a prime red zone threat. He could come in on big, goal line sets and slip out for a catch or two.
He is also only 29 years old, so there’s no saying that he hasn’t hit his prime yet.
27 Receptions, 222 Yards and 1 Touchdown for Tennessee
Alge is simply not what he used to be. He was a real threat out in Atlanta, catching 40 or 50 passes most years there. He moved to Tennessee, and his production dropped off.
However, while his catching dropped off, his blocking picked up. He was a much better blocker over the last few years, and that is what the Bengals need. He can be a blocker and this gives Chase Coffman room to step up and be the catching Tight End that everybody thought he was going to be.