It's that time of year where everyone loves to share their two cents on how the Bengals should handle the upcoming offseason and I'm no different. So here we go:
Ideally, we'd start off by resigning Andre Smith, Michael Johnson, Thomas Howard, Adam Jones, Kevin Huber and Wallace Gillberry. After that we should start targeting other teams free agents to fill holes in our roster from the guys we let walk. I'm not going to list unrealistic names like Reggie Bush or Dwayne Bowe (though I'd love to see us make a play for a top tier safety like Jarius Byrd or Dashon Goldson). Instead, here are some new guys to throw into the discussion:
Matt Shaughnessy - DE - Oakland Raiders: He's only 26 and one of the best defensive ends when it comes to stopping the run. I'd bring him in to replace Geathers and act as insurance in case we can't resign Johnson.
Daryl Smith - OLB - Jacksonville Jaguars: He's getting up there is age and is coming off a down season after fighting some injuries, but he might be worth the risk. Smith was Pro Football Focus' 2nd rated outside linebacker in 2011. We all know how the Bengals like to buy low when it comes to free agents...
Nich Roach - OLB - Chicago Bears: He's only 27 and can play all three linebacker spots. This should be attractive to Zimmer since our line-backing corps are likely to be in flux after the probable departure of Maualuga and Lawson.
Mike Cox - CB - Jacksonville Jaguars: I know what you're thinking... another Jaguar???? Yes, Jacksonville may stink, but they have some real talent on defense and Cox is a very good corner worth signing in Jacksonville lets him walk. He'd be my top cornerback target this offseason.
Patrick Chung - S - New England Patriots: Here's a young safety that's not getting too much hype. He became expendable after the Patriots moved McCourty to safety, and he will most likely hit the open market. He would be an upgrade over Crocker/Mays in my opinion.
Tracy Porter - CB - Denver Broncos: Tracy Porter kind of disappeared this past season after he was buried on the Broncos depth chart. Everyone wanted him last offseason, but now the Bengals might be able to get him for cheap after hardly playing 2012.
E.J. Biggers - CB - Tampa Bay Bucs: He's not a number 1 CB, but we don't need a true number 1 right now with Hall still under contract. He played pretty well in Tampa Bay last year after Talib was traded to New England and has the speed to stay with most NFL receivers. Plus he's not a big name so we could get him for pretty cheap.
Jerome Felton - FB - Minnesota Vikings: This guy is young and just helped pave the way for Adrian Peterson's monster season. I know we have Pressley and we just signed Connor for the upcoming season, but it's time to get serious about reviving our running game and to me that means making a play for a serious fullback.
La'Rod Stephens-Howling - RB - Arizona Cardinals: Howling is worth bringing in for his return skills alone. With Tate leaving (Hopefully) he could come in a replace him as the primary kickoff returner right away. He won't add too much to the backfield, but he's elusive and could be a solid option in the passing game.
Chaz Schillens - WR - New York Jets: He's got ideal size and speed for a receiver, but hasn't put it all together yet. He's still young, but would really only serve as depth/competition for us.
Onto the draft. We all know that each prospects stock will rise and fall between now and the draft, but as it stands now, here's who I'd like to see in stripes next year:
Round 1 - Arthur Brown - LB - Kansas St.
Round 2a - Eddie Lacy - RB - Alabama
Round 2b - Travis Fredrick - C - Wisconsin
Round 3 - D.J. Swearinger - S - South Carolina
Round 4 - Jonathan Franklin - RB - UCLA
Round 5 - Markus Wheaton - WR - Oregon State
Round 6 - Micah Hyde - CB - Iowa
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you guys think!