We’re almost done with the first full week of NFL free agency and the Cincinnati Bengals have successfully re-signed offensive lineman Mike Pollack, wide receiver and kick returner Brandon Tate, defensive end Dontay Moch, and linebacker Vincent Rey. There were two key departures: defensive end Michael Johnson and offensive tackle Anthony Collins. The good news for the Bengals is that they have one of the deepest rosters in the NFL and will not have to look far outside of the organization for players to step up and fill those starters’ roles.
Another signing the Bengals accomplished this week was giving Marvin Lewis a one year contract extension. The Bengals’ front office is making it very clear that they are trying to keep in tact the same team that has led them to the playoffs each of the last three seasons. However, Lewis only getting one year also shows that the Bengals need to start winning some postseason games.
Lewis realizes that losing Michael Johnson is going to be a tough void to fill, but he’s confident that his team can do it. They’ll get Robert Geathers back, who missed last season with an injury, and he will be more than capable of filling in for Johnson. On the offensive side of the ball, Anthony Collins was a starter but Andrew Whitworth will move back over to the left tackle position and the line will not miss a beat. These two moves show the depth of this Bengals team.
Unfortunately for Cincinnati, the offense could suffer the loss of another key player, Andrew Hawkins. The Browns offered the restricted free-agent a four year, $13.6 million deal that at first, the Bengals were willing to match, but at this point it looks as if they aren’t going to match it. With the loss of Hawkins, this diminishes the versatility of the receiver position. Hawkins lack of height made him a threat because he was elusive and lightning fast. With AJ Green being the consistent best receiver and Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu beginning to step up into their complimentary roles, the Bengals should be able to move on seamlessly without Hawkins.
Defensively, the loss of Michael Johnson will definitely be felt but as I said earlier the defensive line has so much depth that they will be able to compensate for his loss. An area that the Bengals will definitely need to focus on continuing with free agency/heading into the draft is the defensive back position. They need to find young, fresh talent at the position that can learn from and eventually take over for the aging Terrence Newman and Adam “Pacman” Jones in the next few seasons.
As it stands right now, the Bengals have themselves in a good position going forward in the offseason. This is still a young team that is looking to get over the hump of not winning a playoff game and they are putting themselves in the best position possible to make it back to the playoffs and get that long-awaited win.