Free Agency is a tool that teams can use to immediately become Super Bowl contenders. The Bengals could go after some of these top players to put themselves in the hunt for 2017.
Be on the lookout for big names this free agency. Evaluating talent in the NFL Draft is a hefty process for scouts and coaches. Bengals fans can choose their favorites that they have watched on television and determine whether or not they would like to have them on their team. The truth is, free agency is where teams can make the most noise. We are all not the Dallas Cowboys. Finding two guys like Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in the draft doesn’t happen often. What does happen, is players finish out their current deals with non-contender teams, and essentially venture out to find new teams in which they believe can give them a ring.
In a perfect world
The Cincinnati Bengals have a few free agents this offseason, most of which we would love to re-sign. Andrew Whitworth, Dre Kirkpatrick, Kevin Zeitler, and Rex Burkhead are some names that come to mind. In a perfect world, we would be able to sign these players, along with one or two other big name free agents and immediately become contenders. Yeah, there’s math involved. Contracts and salary caps would play a huge part in these possibilities, but, again, this is in a perfect world.
The list goes on
The problems and bad luck really stacked up on the Bengals this season. Injuries and inconsistent scoring could be the difference in winning 6 games and 12 games. The Bengals had lost their last 5 games by a total of 16 points. By the looks of that, we need to add a scoring threat to the healthy version of the Cincinnati offense.
Here’s a list of 5 players that would help the Bengals out in becoming immediate contenders at the start of the 2017 season, barring another injury fiasco and the ability to re-sign 3 of the 4 players mentioned above.
Just think for a minute. Jeffrey on the left, Green on the Right, Tyler Boyd in the slot, and Tyler Eifert at the end of the line of scrimmage. Touchdown city. Deep ball central. This would be fun to watch. Although this is unlikely, It would be fun to see the Bengals make a move to sign a guy of Jeffrey’s caliber.
The big wideout will turn 26 years old this year and has been productive, to say the least, in Chicago with Jay Cutler as his quarterback. The 5th year receiver out of the University of South Carolina has recorded 26 touchdowns in his short career. It would be nice to have someone other than AJ Green and Eifert for opposing defenses to game plan for. We can dream.
An older veteran, Vincent Jackson is probably entering his last few productive years in the NFL. Jackson has only recorded 5 touchdown receptions in the previous 3 seasons. The 33-year-old needs a change of scenery. Mike Evans has taken over as the stud receiver at Tampa Bay. I think that Jackson would benefit in moving up north to The Queen City and helping a team needing veteran wide receivers and experience. As a 1,000 yard receiver for 6 years of his NFL career, That production would definitely help the Bengals offense in 2017. This option is not that farfetched to think about.
He’s young, he’s fast, and he can score touchdowns. Stills is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason as well. He’s currently on the Miami Dolphins roster and has 9 touchdowns so far. The Dolphins are also in the playoffs. The Bengals can’t say that they have many receivers with playoff experience. In his 4th year in the NFL, the 24-year-old has already played for two teams. He caught passes from Drew Brees in New Orleans for 2 years. Miami has reaped the rewards of Stills since 2015.
He is probably going to need to get paid, but by letting someone like Domata Peko walk, the offense can benefit from a proven player right away. Defensive issues like the linebackers and edge rushers can be addressed in the defensive talent heavy NFL Draft. That is if the Dolphins don’t fight to re-sign him, which is probably.
He’s a Pittsburgh Steeler, I know. Wheaton is a fourth-year receiver. He has played with Antonio Brown, who some might say is pretty good at catching footballs and getting open. Wheaton would be a guy opposite Green that could help this Cincinnati offense. He has not had the production of the receivers that I have listed above him, but I credit that to the workload of Brown. Antonio gets the bulk of footballs thrown his direction. That limits Wheaton’s usage. If someone wanted to take a chance and pursue Wheaton, I believe that they would be getting a 7-10 touchdown guy. The Bengals need that since the past season’s leader in touchdowns was Brandon LaFell with 6 Touchdowns.
The Minnesota Vikings use Cordarrelle Patterson primarily as a kick and punt returner. He is an electric option that provides them with lightning speed. As my last suggestion of free agent targets, Patterson is a guy that could help out in many aspects of the game. If we can’t re-sign a guy like Burkhead, who was a staple on every special teams unit, Patterson could step in and give Pro Football Focus’ second team all-pro kick returner, Alex Erickson some competition. Plus this would take Adam Jones out of the kick and punt returning equations. Who knows, maybe a receiver like Green can coach up the young man and turn him into an 800-yard guy.
Reality sets in
Is any of this even feasible? Probably not. The truth is, other than Alshon Jeffrey, all of these players will probably be re-signed to their current teams. Fans can only dream about the possibilities.
Free agency is the sure-fire way to sign talent that has proven themselves in the NFL. If we have a front office that wants to win right away, moves need to be made. Let’s just hope we make the right ones. I’d like to go to a playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium sometime in the next 10 years.