Free Agency Moves
The Bengals haven’t exactly had a ton of playoff success as of late, as the team has been shown the door in the Wild Card round each of the last four seasons. So, Cincinnati fans were hoping to see free agent moves that would at least give this Bengals franchise hopes of getting the playoff monkey off of its back.
But Cincinnati’s moves on the free agent market were less than thrilling. They brought back defensive end Michael Johnson after he spent an underwhelming season with the Tampa Bay Bucs. Of course, the guy still has plenty of upside, so returning to Cincinnati may give him a chance to rejuvenate his career.
The Bengals also picked up former Ohio State product A.J. Hawk to add to their defensive depth, which makes sense and gives the linebacker unit a nice little boost.
Graphic via chatsports
Overall though, the Bengals weren’t big players on the free market. And while that may be surprising, when is the last time Cincinnati really made a massive splash in free agency? The franchise’s approach stayed conservative, just like it has in recent years.
Assessing Cincinnati’s Draft
While Cincinnati wasn’t a dominant force in free agency, it did make noise in the draft. The Bengals went with Texas A&M offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi at the 21st spot, and while he likely won’t be a factor this year after tearing his ACL during the team’s bowl game, he will have his presence felt on the line once he’s healthy.
How did Cincinnati follow that up? By taking another offensive lineman in the second round. The Bengals snagged Jake Fisher from Oregon, and he’ll have a chance to step in sooner rather than later given Ogbuehi’s injury problem.
The Cincinnati franchise also addressed significant needs at linebacker and tight end by taking Paul Dawson and Tyler Kroft in those respective positions. Bengals fans won’t have to wait long to see those two on the gridiron, as both are expected to see high-quality playing time this year.
Other Offseason Notes
Aside from the typical things on an NFL team’s offseason slate, the Bengals didn’t make too much noise. Given the off-the-field problems that have plagued the league in recent years, that’s definitely a good thing for this Cincinnati squad.
The Bengals did make the decision to extend head coach Marvin Lewis‘ contract through the 2016 season, quieting any doubt that he would return to lead the club for another year. While the playoff exits have been disappointing for Cincinnati fans, Lewis has at least given them the opportunity to play post-season football.
Looking Ahead to the 2015 NFL Season
The Bengals will be looking for their fourth straight double-digit win season, and the pre-season will be a chance for this franchise to work out some of the kinks. Cincinnati will open up the exhibition campaign at home against the New York Giants, and then head south for a meeting with the Tampa Bay Bucs 10 days later.
The real thing gets started on September 13 when the Bengals meet up with what should be a much-improved Oakland Raiders squad.
Lewis’ team has acquired the depth that they need to once again make the playoffs, but the question is, can they finally get over the Wild Card hump and make a run at a championship?
Graphic via profootballspot