The Cincinnati Bengals became something that everyone thought they couldn't, a playoff team with one of the youngest starting rosters in the NFL after a 4 win season a year ago. Now that the Bengals have MOST of their key players under lock, its time for Mike Brown to open up his checkbook and not only address the holes that the Texans and division rivals made clear but to upgrade at the position as well. That being said, the Bengals, in my opinion, need an upgrade at RB, WR, KR, and Safety through free agency. I'm going to spitball a couple big name free agents and you let me know your opinions...
Option A: Micheal Bush
Micheal Bush finally showed he can be the bellcow starting RB that everyone thought he could be. Entering free agency, Micheal is going to be one of the biggest free agent RB's on the market. With a chance Oakland places on the franchise tag on Bush, Mike Brown would have to bullet down and pay the man to make him come to Cincy.
Option B: Peyton Hillis
Peyton played his way out of Cleveland this year after his "superstar" antics and lack of production. There's no doubt the man can play though. Hillis is a BEAST at the RB position and is also a great option to catch the ball out of the backfield. Putting a tank like Hillis in Cincinnati's backfield would take emense pressure off of Dalton and really open up the play-action passing game.
Option A: Ted Ginn Jr
Tate is terrible. I know his stats aren't that bad but why does it seem like every other team in the NFL has their own return threat guy that actually makes plays and the Bengals do not? I've been watching Ted Ginn Jr since his start in Miami and to me, he is one of the fastest players in the NFL. If the Bengals are going to waste a roster position on just a kickoff returner who isn't going to get on the field then at least make the position arguable where it doesn't hurt the team as much.
Option B: DeSawn Jackson
Now hold on a second, I know your thinking NO WAY with his attitude but just imagine the offense with Jackson involved. A legitimate stretch-the-field WR to make mismatches for ANY defense in the NFL. I truly don't see this one happening and I'm perfectly okay with that but I just wanted to bring it up.
Option A: LaRon Landry
LaRon Landry is one of the better strong safeties in the NFL, and that is the position where the Bengals are weakest overall. Landry was placed on injured reserve last season and has had injury issues the past few years, which will drive his price down until he can prove to stay healthy. Landry is a playmaking safety who is good at rushing the passer and excellent against the run. He forces turnovers and has a tenacity that allows him to blow up plays before they even develop. His coverage skills are on par or better than any safety the Bengals currently have on the roster. The Redskins wouldn't dare use the franchise tag on Landry given his injury issues. If the Bengals are willing to pay a little more than the Redskins and take a risk, they could be receiving a huge award. The Bengals already have a top five defense; Landry would come in and immediately upgrade the unit overall.
Option B: Micheal Griffon
Michael Griffin is one of those players you never know what to expect from. One year he was a Pro Bowl-caliber player, and the next he dropped off the face of the earth. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has made worse players look like Pro Bowlers, so Griffin should be on Cincinnati's radar. Griffin had a solid season last year, finishing with 75 tackles, one forced fumble and two interceptions. He is solid against both the run and pass, and matches up well against tight ends—a position Cincinnati was killed by all season long. Griffin is an oddball, but if the Bengals aren’t able to bring back Reggie Nelson, Griffin would be a good option to fill the void.
As a side note, I am a big supporter of the Bengals grabbing a CB and Lamar Miller through the first round of the NFL draft. Here is a little information on Miller through BR.
Miller is of similar height and size to Chris Johnson, standing at 5'11" and weighing 212 pounds. As a redshirt sophomore this season, Miller ran for 1,272 yards, making him the first Hurricane to reach 1,200 yards since Willis McGahee in 2002, and clocked nine touchdowns for the year.
The main selling point for the Bengals will be the speed and agility of Miller. He can put his foot on the gas and beat defenders with ease, and makes great cut-backs when necessary. His pace and ability to dance around the defense are completely different traits to the freight-train style of play that Benson utilized and could be a nice change of pace for Cincy, whose running style has become painfully predictable. Miller's awareness is almost as impressive as his speed, and his ability to change direction and turn nothing into something is worth commending. Too often did Benson get stuffed in the backfield in 2011. The Bengals need a new approach to running the ball, and unfortunately, Benson's physical attributes don't fit the mold. It must also be considered that the offensive line Miller played behind in Miami was less than spectacular, making the success of Miller that much more impressive. With Andy Dalton still getting used to his receivers, Miller can serve as yet another pair of hands downfield, as well as a back. With 17 receptions and a TD through the air in 2011, Miller has proven that his skill set isn't limited to running the football. If A.J. Green is going to spend a lot of time in double coverage and Jerome Simpson isn't going to be the next go-to guy, then Miller can provide an extra point of attack for this young offense.The question will come down to whether Lewis and Gruden want to move away from the downfield style running game that Benson brought along. If they decide they want to, they will have to assess whether or not Bernard Scott can be their guy. If he isn't, Miller can be, and will have the opportunity to take the Bengals running game to new levels. If the Bengals decide they want to continue pounding the rock, they may look at bringing in Michael Bush from Oakland, and simply have Scott's role increased. With the 17th pick, courtesy of the Oakland Raiders and their own 21st pick in the first round, the Bengals are in prime position to take Miller. While draft speculators have flip-flopped between having the Bengals take a CB or an OT with one of their picks, most have allocated one to the taking of an RB. However it comes to be, the Bengals running game is in for an overhaul in 2012, and will be one of the big storylines to watch as we look forward to the the draft and free-agency.