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Bengals Free Agency Grade Thus Far + Potential Targets Remaining | Giovani Bernard on the Move?

The Cincinnati Bengals have had a questionable NFL Free Agency, to say the least. Everyone from the organization, players and the fans knew the offensive line was in desperate need of an upgrade.

Joe Burrow was sacked 32 times in only 10 games before suffering his gruesome knee injury. He was sacked the ninth-most among quarterbacks, while every QB that was sacked more played more games than him. Protecting Burrow is essential for this franchise to be successful, and the Bengals seemed to neglect that as their priority.

Bengals Questionable Approach to Improve OL

The Bengals could have pursued Joe Thuney, Corey Linsley or Daryl Williams, who are all 29 or younger. They could have traded for Rodney Hudson from the Raiders, who is likely a future Hall of Famer. They could have also traded for Gabe Jackson, who is a solid RG.

Instead, they signed Riley Reiff to a one-year deal, who will be turning 33 in December. Reiff is a definite upgrade over Bobby Hart, and extremely durable, but he will have to move from LT to RT. They also brought back LG Quinton Spain on a one-year deal to compete with Xavier Su’a-Filo at LG. Both of those players had a PFF grade of under 60, which is abysmal. The most glaring hole on the OL is at RG, which neither Spain nor Su’a-Filo can effectively play.

Cincinnati Bengals free agency news and moves so far, including signing NFL free agents Mike Hilton, Chidobe Awuzie and Trey Hendrickson.
Credit: Dan Kubus/Getty Images

Bengals Defensive Additions in NFL Free Agency

The Bengals will have a new-look defense this year, while adding six new pieces on that side of the ball. Letting go of unquestionably their two best defensive players was puzzling. Losing DE Carl Lawson and CB William Jackson is inexcusable, but they did upgrade at some positions, so there is potential for improvement. These are players the Bengals brought in to bolster their defense.

DE Trey Hendrickson is not quite as good as Lawson according to PFF in total pressures and QB hits, but he racked up 13.5 sacks to Lawson’s 5.5. Adding DT Larry Ogunjobi will be a significant upgrade to the interior defensive line. DT Geno Atkins had a rough season, and releasing him freed up over $9 million in cap space.

The Bengals added much-needed depth at CB, even though they lost one of the best corners in the NFL in Jackson. Mike Hilton and Chidobe Awuzie signed long-term deals with the Bengals, and considering they are both under 27, there is some potential for them to improve. They also added former first-round pick Eli Apple, who has struggled throughout his career, but provides much-needed depth.

The Bengals signed FS Ricardo Allen to a one-year deal, who will back up one of the league’s top FS Jessie Bates. Allen is 29 years old and has had a decent career. Overall, the Bengals secondary should be a much deeper moving forward.

There are a lot of new pieces that will all receive playing time, so this is a make it or break it year for DC Lou Anarumo.

Overall Grade Thus Far: C+

trai turner bengals free agency nfl sammy watkins
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Potential Bengals Free Agency Targets

The priorities remain the same for the Bengals. Adding OL, DL and WR will play a pivotal role in improving this roster. There are still multiple linemen available that are better than what the Bengals have in house. Also, having multiple pass rushers on the edge and interior is crucial, and the starting four is solid, but the depth behind them is very thin. The Bengals may have to address WR in the draft, because the market is extremely thin at WR. They desperately need speed at that position, and there are not many options available at this point.

The Bengals still have around $20 million in cap space, so they should not be done in NFL Free Agency.

These are the free agents that are still available that the Bengals should target:

  • OG Trai Turner
  • WR Willie Snead
  • OG Larry Warford
  • DE Ryan Kerrigan
  • DE Justin Houston
  • DE Aldon Smith

Teams Interested in Giovani Bernard

RB Giovani Bernard has been an exceptional leader for the Bengals ever since he was drafted out of North Carolina. He has amassed 6,557 all-purpose yards and totaled 33 touchdowns in the 114 games he has played for the Bengals.

The Bengals owe $15.9 million to their RB committee, largely due to Joe Mixon’s contract, but that is the second-highest in the NFL. Bernard is due $4.8 million for the upcoming season, and the Bengals could free up some more cap space by moving him. Samaje Perine agreed to a two-year deal this offseason, and he showed flashes of being a capable backup to Mixon last season. It makes sense for the Bengals to get Bernard’s contract off the books and acquire a late-round draft pick.

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