Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Cincinnati Bengals. [full archive here].
Season Recap – The Cincinnati Bengals entered the 2010 season with very high expectations after finishing 10-6 and sweeping the AFC North in 2009, but failed to live up to the hype and ended with a 4-12 record. With the likes of Chad Ochocinco, Carson Palmer, Terrell Owens, and Cedric Benson, the Bengals were supposed to have a potent offense but it never came together. Cincinnati faces many question marks with players on the current roster: Terrell Owens will not return, Chad Ochocinco could be traded, and Cedric Benson will become a free agent. Carson Palmer publicly demanded a “trade or retire” request, and figures to be the main issue for the Bengals this offseason. Newly hired offensive coordinator Jay Gruden brings in a West Coast offense and will look to improve the offense, especially the running game, which finished the season ranked 27th.
1. Running back – Cedric Benson is scheduled to become a free agent, and the Bengals are most likely going to go in another direction. With Jay Gruden now set to run the offense, the Bengals must find a starting running back to help keep pressure off of Carson Palmer.
2. Outside Linebacker – OLB Rey Maualuga seems destined for a move back to his better-suited MLB position due to the likely departure of Dhani Jones, thus creating a hole outside. If the Bengals can find a young replacement at OLB to pair with youngsters Maualuga and Keith Rivers, they would create one of the top units in the league.
3. Strong Safety – Cincinnati seems to have gotten a steal in a trade for FS Reggie Nelson, the former first round pick, who performed very well. Nelson now needs a counterpart next to him at SS; with 30 year old Roy Williams set to become a free agent. There should be many options in the middle rounds to solidify the position.
4. Offensive Guard – Mainstay, Bobbie Williams, 35, isn’t getting any younger and it is time to start looking for a replacement. Cincinnati will have options with a strong free agent class and nine draft picks.
5. Defensive Tackle – Many might argue WR is a greater need than DT for Cincinnati, but I disagree. The Bengals have selected three WR’s (Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell, Jordan Shipley) in the top three rounds in recent years, and they have yet to disappoint. There is always the issue regarding Ochocinco, but in the end I think he returns. If the Bengals can get another force up front, such as a Marcel Dareus, then it will leave DE’s Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap free to wreak havoc on opposing Quarterbacks.