The Bengals have signed a free agent guard in Travelle Wharton, a free agent cornerback in Jason Allen and a free agent running back in BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and they've re-signed some of their own players including free safety Reggie Nelson and cornerback Adam Jones. They have addressed most of their needs in free agency without going overboard on spending and even though they'll need to draft for need in the draft, they have made themselves a better team.
However, one need they haven't addressed is at wide receiver. The Bengals have their No. 1 wide receiver of the future in A.J. Green, but they don't have a solid No. 2 receiver. In fact, the Bengals have been lacking a solid second receiver since T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Laveranues Coles, Terrell Owens, and Jerome Simpson have done what they could to fill the void, but all have fallen short. Most recently, Simpson tried to step up to be the team's No. 2 receiver and even though he had a few good games, he was extremely inconsistent and then there was the legal troubles.
The Bengals have neglected to bring in some of the top free agent wide receivers and now most of them have signed to new teams. However, it's not too late for the Bengals to find a reliable No. 2 receiver in free agency.
While Mike Wallace could be had if the Bengals were willing to give up a first-round pick and their left arm, there are a handful of unrestricted free agents that could be had for a decent price.
Braylon Edwards was released from the 49ers and is still floating around in free agency. He has been in the league for seven years and while he didn't have a lot of success in San Francisco, he had some good seasons both with the Jets and with the Browns.
Edwards is a big-bodied wide receiver with good downfield speed and excellent body control, athleticism and hand-eye coordination. He can stretch the secondary deep but lacks top explosiveness to simply run away from people when he gets behind them. He can make eye-grabbing, athletic catches but will also drop some easy passes. He is a smart player who can read coverages and is quick to pick up schemes. He will do a good job of locating passing lanes when settling into pockets against zone coverage. With his ability to play big and come up with big catches in clutch situations, he should be a hot commodity. However, he still needs to work on his consistency.
Another free agency option is Steve Smith. Not the Steve Smith that has played for the Carolina Panthers, but the Steve Smith who played for the Philadelphia Eagles last season. Smith is coming off his fifth season in the NFL. His first four were with the Giants and last year he was with the Eagles. He has one 1,000-yard season under his belt and two 500-yard seasons. However, he does have some durability issues as he has only played in 18 games in the last two seasons.
When healthy, Smith is an excellent athlete with good quickness and speed as a route runner. He has reliable hands with good concentration and courage in traffic. He is an effort blocker on the perimeter, but isn't always effective due to lack of size.
Then there's Plaxico Burress. Burress, of course, was not only made famous for his game-winning touchdown catch in Super Bowl XLII but also for shooting himself in the leg in a night club with an illegal gun, which sent him to prison for a while.
He played with the Jets in 2011, and while he didn't have a great season, he still caught eight touchdown passes and racked up 612 receiving yards. He can be a solid No. 2 receiver for any team that signs him as long as he doesn't shoot himself again.
Plaxico Burris doesn't have great speed to stretch deep zones but he runs well with good quickness and agility as a route runner. He can make the tough catch in traffic, but has also been inconsistent at times making the routine grab. He is a solid perimeter blocker with long levers to wall off defenders.
There are other options as well, including:
- Legedu Naanee
- Roscoe Parrish
- Jerricho Cotchery
- Ted Ginn
- Mike Sims-Walker
- And of course, Jerome Simpson
Which, if any, of these wide receivers interest you?