Manningham Is A Perfect No. 2 Receiver, But Would He Succeed With The Bengals?

After reading Matt Bowen's article which details what type of receiver Mario Manningham is, I felt extremely comfortable that Manningham is the perfect fit for the Bengals roster. Then, I thought about it some more and wasn't so sure.

+Why I like Manningham: The Bengals aren't in the market for another No. 1 receiver. Signing a player like Vincent Jackson or Marques Colston in free agency would not be a prudent use of money, and that's because the Bengals already have their superstar No. 1 in A.J. Green. Not only would a player like Jackson on Colston demand an exceedingly large sum of money, but that player wouldn't be able to earn his pay because there aren't enough footballs to go around. The Bengals (at least right now, with second-year quarterback Andy Dalton at the helm), can't become an Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Eli Manning led offense, where their entire offense comes from throwing the ball. The Bengals must pursue a balanced offense to let their young superstars grow and gain confidence. Point is, the open second wide receiver roster spot isn't a huge need, especially when filling that need limits your ability to spend money and solve problems elsewhere on the roster.

Bowen makes his best point is when he says this:

When breaking down the Giants Mario Manningham, I see a WR that can run the vertical route tree, the deep curl and produce out of a bunch or a stack look. A solid No.2 on your roster--when paired with a No.1 that can put stress on a defensive game plan.

The way I see it, Manningham falls into that second-tier category at the position. He allows you to add depth and talent to your WR unit, but he isn’t the answer for teams looking to add a No.1 WR this offseason.

A number one that put stress on a defensive game plan? That, my friends, is AJ Green in a nutshell. Mario Manningham has the flexibility to complement whatever route Green wants to run. Manningham can be that reliable second or third look that Dalton had been missing all last season. Green and Gresham were always there last year, but Simpson and Caldwell weren't. Throw in Shipley and Manningham into the 2012 equation, and you've got a recipe for a great, young passing offense.

+Why I don't: However, Manningham doesn't come without questions, as he hasn't been entirely consistent throughout his 4-year career, and evaluators can't forget that Manningham benefited from running routes alongside play-makers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Manningham only played 756 of the Giants' 1404 offensive snaps this year. Nicks (1257) and Cruz (1052) were the primary and secondary focuses of the passing attack. Is Manningham (and the same argument can be made for Robert Meachem of the Saints) ready to step up and contribute on a larger percentage of the team's offensive plays?

Sure, Manningham made that great, game-saving catch in this year's Superbowl, but was that the greatest moment of his career? Can he continue to make spectacular plays like that one (pictured above), or will he never be able to reach that high (teehee) again? David Tyree never made a catch in the NFL again after his own Superbowl-saving on-his-helmet catch in Superbowl XLII.

Manningham's talent level isn't superior or elite, and that's what scares me. Courtesy of Pro Football Focus, here are his receiving grades for the past 3 years of his career: +7.1 (2009), +4.5 (2010), +0.1 (2011: -3.1 regular season, +3.2 postseason). He's faded a bit, and he's posted a negative run-blocking score every year (-3.2, -2.1, -2.9). On the other hand, he played fantastic in the Giants' 2011 Superbowl run; they were some of the best games of his career.

Maybe I just don't like Manningham because he's a Michigan guy. That's probably it.

+What do you think? Signing a player like Mario Manningham inherently comes with some risks. But, from a financial standpoint and a fits-your-needs standpoint, Manningham fits the bill. What do you think?

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