Free agency. The awesome month where players leave teams for betting paying gigs, or far more promising futures than the one's represented to them the previous season. The Bengals lost a handful of role players, but the lone true starter that left is Nate Livings -- and we know how huge that was. Maybe Frostee Rucker too, who started twice as many games last season than Michael Johnson.
Matt Williamson gave the Bengals a "B-" in his free agency grade, writing (ESPN In$ider):
The Bengals opened free agency with a ton of money to spend. With a surplus of early draft picks and this cap room at their disposal, Cincinnati was in a great position to really improve its roster. While I am a proponent of not overspending on other teams' castoffs, and bearing in mind that the Bengals have a great opportunity to add quality talent in the draft with two first-round picks, I can't help but feel that the Bengals let a golden opportunity slip through their hands this offseason. I would have attacked a high-end free agent or two such as Carl Nicks or Cortland Finnegan. The Bengals did well to keep their secondary intact by retaining Nelson and Jones, and overall, they are a pretty deep team. Upgrades should be in store from the draft, where they won't have to reach for a particular position.
Comparatively speaking, Williamson gave only four AFC teams better grades than the Bengals.