Why The Bengals Wide Receiver Roster Is Already Set

If Chad Ochocinco and his Prius weren't traded to the New England Patriots, a sacrifice to please the football gods would have been demanded. Like most NFL teams, the Cincinnati Bengals typically keep six wide receivers for the regular season, often included with a core of players that were always expected to make the team. By not trading him, or at the very least releasing his $6 million salary, the Bengals would have found a way to invite conspiracy theories, controversy and issues of adversity of Cincinnati didn't find a way to move past the Ochocinco era.

Then again, would it have really surprised you if the team held onto Chad for that final season? Besides either A.J. Green or Jerome Simpson's taking a significant cut from expected playing time, the team would have been forced into a decision regarding Andre Caldwell, Quan Cosby or Ryan Whalen; all of whom are having good training camps with the latter two expected to be special teams contributors. To the common household fan, whose fandom for the Bengals is mostly watching on Sunday (or listening to the radio in our case this year) with a few observations through the mainstream media, this is no big deal. To the clinically obsessed that we all gladly acknowledge on these pages, we know that it's just as important to have the best special teams players and in relation to wide receiver, those spots are just as critical at the final two spots on the roster.

Because of many reasons, keeping Chad, who hasn't appeared as interested in football for the past three seasons, could have been a mitigated disaster. Sure. He's rightfully known as the franchise's best all-time wide receiver and maybe he was a bit too unceremoniously disposed of. Yet would it be a stretch to suggest that Cincinnati trading Chad is easily the best offseason move?

Further still, would suggesting that Cincinnati's wide receiver roster is now set?

A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson will start at wide receiver, with Jordan Shipley filling the slot during three-wide formations. Andre Caldwell, much stronger outside than in the slot, would backup Green and Simpson -- why move Shipley outside and put Caldwell in the slot; that would seem like a bad alignment that weakens your strengths in the passing game.

Quan Cosby holds the franchise record for most punt return yards in a single-season and an overall good special teams contributor. Rookie Ryan Whalen will figure into the team's special teams plans, and perhaps as a backup for Shipley in the slot.

There's always the chance that undrafted free agents Landon Cox, Bart Johnson, Jamere Holland and Andrew Hawkins make such an impression that it knocks Caldwell or Cosby off the roster, or forcing Whalen onto the team's practice squad. However it appears more likely that one of those four are prime candidates for the practice squad.

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