Fix-it Friday: The Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals got their quarterback with the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He showed what he can do at this level, even with a weak supporting cast, before tearing his ACL late in the season.

The Bengals finished the season with a record of 4-11-1, up from the 2-14 season last year. Still, the Bengals have a combined record of 25-53-2 since the 2016 season. It helps to have your franchise QB at such a young age, but the Bengals still have a lot of work ahead of them.

Head Coach and General Manager:

The Bengals signed Head Coach Zac Taylor in February of 2019, but have gone through two rough seasons. If things don’t turn around for this team and Joe Burrow doesn’t have a breakout season, Taylor’s job security may be looked at a little closer.

The general manager for the Bengals is also the owner, Mike Brown. Obviously, he won’t be firing himself, but if things continue the way they’ve been going, he really needs to consider hiring an assistant general manager that will essentially handle the regular duties of general manager. I’m not a fan of owners being really involved in actual day-to-day football decisions, so I am a bit partial to this fix.

Cap Space: $33.3 million

Cut/Trade:

Geno Atkins, DL – $9.5 million

Bobby Hart, OT – $5.8 million

B.J. Finney, IOL – $3.25 million

These moves would create an additional $18.55 in cap space, giving the Bengals a total of $51.85 in cap space entering free agency.

Resign:

Shawn Williams, SS

Mackensie Alexander, CB

William Jackson III, CB

Josh Bynes, LB

Christian Covington, DL

Samaje Perine, RB

Margus Hunt, DL

Carl Lawson, EDGE

The Bengals can realistically bring back all of these players on relatively cheap deals. Lawson is the exception, most likely demanding $9 million a year, which the Bengals can afford and should pay for a player this good at such an important position.

Free Agency:

The Bengals have room to spare, but they’re never usually big players in free agency. They don’t like to spend a lot, but they will need to if they actually want to turn this franchise around. With their cap space and Burrow as their QB, top free agents could be lured to Cincinnati.

Tier One:

Allen Robinson, WR

Chris Godwin, WR

Brandon Scherff, G

Joe Thuney, G

Kenny Golladay, WR

Juju Smith-Schuster, WR

Matt Judon, EDGE

Hunter Henry, TE

Shaquill Barrett, EDGE

Tier Two:

Melvin Ingram, EDGE

Sammy Watkins, WR

Mike Pouncey, C

Corey Linsley, C

Bud Dupree, EDGE

Patrick Peterson, CB

Russell Okung, OT

T.Y. Hilton, WR

Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE

Lavonte David, LB

Alex Mack, C

Markus Golden, EDGE

K.J. Wright, LB

Corey Davis, WR

Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE

Alejandro Villanueva, OT

Jason McCourty, CB

Leonard Floyd, EDGE

Mike Hilton, CB

Olivier Vernon, EDGE

Jared Cook, TE

Keanu Neal, SS

Nelson Agholor, WR

Desmond King, CB

Tier Three:

Marvin Jones, WR

Josh Norman, CB

Willie Snead, WR

Tyler Kroft, TE

Ryan Kerrigan, EDGE

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR

Kyler Fackrell, LB

Everson Griffen, EDGE

Sean Lee, LB

Austin Blythe, G

Jimmy Smith, CB

Will Fuller, WR

Demarcus Robinson, WR

Daryl Williams, OT

Matt Skura, C

Quinton Dunbar, CB

Curtis Samuel, WR

Chidobe Awuzie, CB

Jason Verrett, CB

Taylor Moton, OT

Shaquill Griffin, CB

Tim Patrick, WR

Levi Wallace, CB

Draft:

Round One:

5th Overall:

Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

There are three key positions the Bengals can address here with their first pick in this draft. First and foremost, the Bengals need to add an offensive tackle. Keeping Joe Burrow safe and comfortable is key fir this franchise moving forward. The offensive line should be addressed in both free agency and the draft. If both Sewell and Slater are gone by the 5th pick, I’d suggest the Bengals trading down a few spots with a QB-needy team and taking the next beat offensive tackle on the board. Still, Smith, Chase, and Surtain are great options. All 3 look like future NFL stars, and Burrow could use another weapon, and the defense could add another corner that would make their secondary very strong.

Round Two:

37th Overall:

Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU

Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame

Dillon Radunz, OT, NDSU

Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State

Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia

If the Bengals get an offensive tackle with their first round pick, Marshall or Toney should be the prime options for their second round pick. If they miss out on an offensive tackle, Eichenberg and Radunz are good options at the top of the second round. Friermuth is another offensive weapon to consider, with the Bengals tight end position up for grabs. They can also address the cornerback position here with a borderline first round talent.

Round Three:

69th Overall:

Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State

Joe Tyron, EDGE, Washington

Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama

Josh Myers, IOL, Ohio State

Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State

There are three main spots to build up first on a football roster when rebuilding. QB, and both sides of the trenches. The Bengals have their QB, they should have addressed the offensive line in free agency and one of their first two picks in this draft, so now they can look on defense. Tyron sat the year out, but he was primed for a Day Two pick. He could be well off the board at this point, but if he’s there, he could be a steal. The Bengals would also be wise to add a linebacker depth piece, or another offensive lineman who can start next season.

Round Four:

106th Overall:

Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame

Ben Cleveland, IOL, Georgia

Shaka Toney, EDGE, Penn State

Jalen Twyman, DL, Pitt

Tremble is another good option at tight end for the Bengals to compete fir the starting gig. Cleveland gives them another interior offensive line option, but he probably wouldn’t start until 2022. Toney can be inconsistent, but when he’s on, he’s very hard to stop. If the Bengals cut Geno Atkins, Twyman would be a great option in the middle of the draft. He might need to be considered with their third rounder, but he’d be worth it.

Round Five:

145th Overall:

Tony Fields II, LB, West Virginia

Tedarrell Slaton, DL, Florida

Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse

Whop Philyor, WR, Indiana

The Bengals can add that depth piece at linebacker, cornerback, or wide receiver, or fill the void if they cut Atkins. Even if they draft a receiver earlier, I wouldn’t mind them grabbing another one later in the draft. It seems likely they will lose A.J. Green and John Ross, whether by choice or not, but more weapons for Burrow will never be a bad thing.

Round Six:

183rd Overall:

Malcolm Koonce, EDGE, Buffalo

Osa Odighizuwa, DL, EDGE

Kenny Yeboah, TE, Ole Miss

Monty Rice, LB, Georgia

In the later rounds, it’s all about depth. The positions don’t really matter, because you’re not trying to fill specific spots. The Bengals can look to add depth to their defensive front seven, or add that tight end to the fold.

Round Seven:

226th Overall:

Emerson Smith, EDGE, Northern Iowa

Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa

Keith Taylor, CB, Washington

248th Overall:

Trey Hill, IOL, Georgia

Mustafa Johnson, DL, Colorado

James Wiggins, S, Cincinnati

I’ve laid out some positions in the seventh round for the Bengals to add some depth. Safety might be their best position, outside of QB, but you can always add depth to good positions.

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