ESPN's offseason/pre-draft NFL power rankings have been released, and the Bengals slid 8 spots from last year's final regular season rankings. Almost as many as the Oakland Raiders and New Orleans Saints, whose tumultuous offseasons have made these clubs fall 9 spots each.
The Denver Broncos (8-8), Chicago Bears (8-8), Philadelphia Eagles (8-8), Atlanta Falcons (10-6), Dallas Cowboys (8-8), San Diego Chargers (8-8), Tennessee Titans (9-7), Kansas City Chiefs (7-9), and Carolina Panthers (6-10) all surpassed the Bengals.
Really? I can understand how the Manning-led-Broncos, or the Bears with a healthy Cutler-Forte-Marshall might pass the Bengals, but none of these other seven teams have had a great offseason. Certainly not that much better than the Bengals.
And, how is it that the Bengals deserve to fall almost as far as both the Raiders and Saints? Either the Bengals' playoff loss to the Houston Texans was overly valued, the Bengals above average offseason hasn't been taken into consideration, or the Bengals are simply getting disrespected by the national media again. Point is, No. 19 is far too low.
It is a fair point that the loss to the Houston Texans was a bad and embarrassing loss. However, it appears that these rankings don't reflect the Bengals offseason moves so far. The Bengals' biggest FA moves have only been made in the latter days of free agency (BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Adam Jones, Jason Allen, Reggie Nelson, Travelle Wharton). No players that the Bengals lost to other teams (Nate Livings, Mike McGlynn, Andre Caldwell, Frostee Rucker, Jonathan Fanene) were even solid, playmaking starters. Rather, they were poor starters, adequate depth, or average starters (Rucker). Finally, how can you ignore the Bengals' abundance of draft picks? They have a pick in every round, and two picks in both the first and fifth rounds. The Saints' first pick in the 2012 NFL draft isn't until the third round (No. 90), and the Raiders first pick isn't until the fifth round (No. 140).
Regardless of what the national media thinks of the Bengals, I'm pleased with where the Bengals stand in free agency. I do, however, think they still need to re-sign a few more key players (Donald Lee, Manny Lawson, Pat Sims, Anthony Collins) before I can call this free agency a success. But, I like the foundation that the Bengals have laid, and I'm excited for what this year's draft holds.