Offseason review: Cincinnati Bengals face a period of transition
By Adam CaplanFoxSports
WR, RB, G, C, SS, CB, QB (developmental), DE
Round 1: A.J. Green, WR Round 2: Andy Dalton, QB Round 3: Dontay Moch, DE/OLB Round 4: Clint Boling, G Round 5: Robert Sands, S Round 6: Ryan Whalen, WR Round 7: Korey Lindsey, CB Round 7: Jay Finley, RB
Potential free agents of note
Cedric Benson, RB Kyle Cook, C Jonathan Fanene, DL Dhani Jones, LB Johnathan Joseph, CB Reggie Kelly, TE Nate Livings, G Evan Mathis, G Terrell Owens, WR Chinedum Ndukwe, S Roy Williams, S
RB, G, C, SS, CB, DE (depth)
The Bengals had a plethora of needs on both sides of the ball coming into this year’s NFL draft. Armed with eight picks, they addressed several of them, but many still remain.
Quarterback became a big need once it was known that starter Carson Palmer plans to retire if he’s not traded. The team, taking Palmer at his word, selected Andy Dalton in the second round. According to league sources, however, team president Mike Brown will not trade Palmer. Palmer either will play for the Bengals to finish out his contract, which expires after the 2014 season, or he’ll play for no other team. Brown, like his late father Paul Brown, is an old-school owner and won’t let players dictate roster moves.
The selection of wide receiver A.J. Green in the first round could spell the end of Chad Ochocinco’s 10-year tenure with the team. The veteran wide receiver is on the final year of his contract with a base salary of $6 million, and his verbal barbs with head coach Marvin Lewis aren’t helping his cause. If Ochocinco doesn't return for his 11th season, Jerome Simpson or Andre Caldwell would start opposite Green because veteran wide receiver Terrell Owens isn’t expected to re-sign for a second season.
The Bengals have said they want to re-sign starting running back Cedric Benson. They’ll need to because the team doesn’t have a viable replacement for him on the roster. Third-year running back Bernard Scott has excellent quickness, but he isn’t able to handle the volume of carries that Benson is capable of.
The Bengals could have a problem on the interior of the offensive line if center Kyle Cook and guard Nate Livings don’t re-sign. Both could become unrestricted free agents depending on the rules once free agency starts. Fourth-round pick Clint Boling is expected to compete for a backup job at guard this season but could compete for time as a starter in his second year.
The defense has issues with depth up front, but the issues really reside on the back end.
If starting cornerback Johnathan Joseph leaves via free agency, the Bengals would not have a player who realistically could be ready to step into his place right away. If the 2010 free agency rules are in effect, Joseph would return as a restricted free agent. If 2009 rules were used, he could leave as an unrestricted free agent.
Reggie Nelson is expected to take over at strong safety for Roy Williams, who is unsigned and is not expected to return. But Nelson’s play over the years has been erratic, so fifth-round pick Robert Sands could challenge for the job down the line.
The Bengals will use third-round pick Dontay Moch as a strong-side linebacker/hybrid pass-rusher much like the way they have used Michael Johnson. The Bengals would like to move third-year linebacker Rey Maualuga inside from playing on the strong side in his first two seasons. If Maualuga does wind up moving inside, the chances of re-signing Dhani Jones would decrease significantly unless he’s willing to take a backup job with the team. A team source said Jones, who turned 33 earlier this year, is the type of player that coaches want around because he’s so smart.