by Mario Granata
The hourglass on Marvin Lewis finally ran out (by means of him stepping down) making way for Zac Taylor as the youth movement in the NFL continues. Perhaps the Bengals are thinking that Taylor spending time with Sean McVay will somehow lead to greener pastures on the offensive side of the ball. As any coach of the Dallas Cowboys will find out, working for a GM who has had multiple coaches could lead to some issues in acquiring talent. Hopefully, Mike Brown (who has been at the helm in Cincinnati since Taylor was 8-years old) will allow him to make some moves to improve the Bengals in the AFC North.
The Bengals were not big spenders during the free agency period and currently have 23 million to work with. When your starting quarterback and wide receiver (Andy Dalton and AJ Green) are accounting for 31 million against the cap, you have to try and fill in the gaps elsewhere. The Bengals currently hold 11 picks in the 2019 Draft, 5 of those in the 6th round and if they were to keep them all, will account for 9.6m against the cap. Perhaps letting go and hitting the reset button could have allowed the Bengals to make some more moves, however, this is the table that Brown has set for them.
With a GM who is hesitant to spend money, the Bengals made "value" moves in free agency to plug some holes. A year after trading for Cordy Glenn, the Bengals have signed G John Miller to a 3-year deal. Perhaps Brown is still reading newspapers and not looking at the performance of the Bills offensive line in recent years. They also extended Preston Brown 3 more years, taking a page out of the Tennessee Titans playbook, when they were hungry for former Bills players.
They also signed TE Tyler Eifert and CB Darqueze Dennard to one-year deals but the biggest move they have made is releasing LB Vontaze Burfict. This should open up the locker room to be free of possible "bad eggs" and allow Taylor to set the culture in Cincinnati.
Having the 11th pick overall, some of the offensive talent could be ripe for the picking, however, the Bengals are pretty set with their skill players on offense. Along with Green, WR Tyler Boyd and RB Joe Mixon have come into their own, and with the trade for Glenn, signing Miller and drafting Billy Price in 2018, the Bengals have appeared to solidify their line. Many of the defensive prospects will already be gone at that time, so the Bengals would be wise to trade back and acquire more picks in 2020 to retool their team.
As many of you know, the 1st-round selections hold the 5th-year option for those players selected. However, if a player is drafted 1-10, their 5th-year option is far greater than those drafted 11-32, which makes the Bengals a very sexy target for a team in the 20s trying to move up to gain a player. They could use this to their advantage.
If the Bengals choose to keep their pick, they could go with CB Byron Murphy out of Washington. This would give the Bengals 3 First-Round cornerbacks on their roster, with Murphy joining William Jackson III (Selected 24th overall in 2016) and Dre Kirkpatrick (Selected 17th overall in 2012). With teams relying on the slot receivers in the "New NFL" having 3 First-Round cornerbacks could work to the Bengals advantage when facing the likes of the Steelers, Ravens and now trying to man up against OBJ and Jarvis Landry in Cleveland.
Whatever the Bengals do, Taylor will be given time to make mistakes...just like his predecessor.