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Breaking down the Bengals wide receivers

First and foremost, I wanted to do a "Flashback" story in mid-December 2007 that referenced a post by PFT.

A league source tells us that there is growing animosity in the Bengals locker room toward receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Per the source, both are yelling "all the time" at quarterback Carson Palmer, but coach Marvin Lewis doesn't say or do anything about it. Players are also upset that the two receivers are trying to "run the team."

The situation reminds us of the latter days of the Denny Green era in Minnesota, where receivers Cris Carter and Randy Moss were berating quarterback Daunte Culpepper and operating under a separate set of rules.

Now, truth be told, nothing came of it. And one has to consider that PFT is partially rumor, partially truth, all based on sources that either written in newspapers or unnamed in PFT's circle. Still, when it happened, you had to admit that there's a possibility of truth; not easily tossed aside for blind denials. Both receivers are extremely emotional, and if the team, or one of the players, isn't doing what they believe should be done to win, then you had to consider this partially true. My reason for saying partially true is because it wasn't followed up, nor confirmed.

I wrote before the 2008 NFL Draft that "A scenario does exist that the Bengals could lose their their three best wide receivers that combined for 69 receiving touchdowns since 2005 -- 80% of Palmer's 86 passing touchdowns." This was when Henry was dealing with his last (or latest) legal issue, Chad Johnson during his campaign to get traded and T.J. Houshmandzadeh the final season of his contract.

Fast forward to now. We can adjust the presumption to commit that Henry will be with the Bengals in 2009, and there's a strong argument for Johnson returning, save for Drew Rosenhaus' manipulating letter-writing skills.

All things being known, we can preview the position to look like this before free agency in two weeks.

  1. Chad Johnson
  2. Chris Henry
  3. Andre Caldwell
  4. Jerome Simpson
  5. Antonio Chatman
  6. Mario Urrutia
  7. Maurice Purify

Glenn Holt is a restricted free agent, and until he's signed, you have to consider that the Bengals may not offer him a deal.

It's not the most experienced list, and there's noise that's both legit and very loud about Jerome Simpson's potential based on anti-Mike Brown arguments. Henry has the physical attributes to be a hellva receiver, but not the mental fortitude to even be the team's number two. Andre Caldwell seems likely to be the team's best option in the slot and Antonio Chatman, when (lack of) durability isn't sucking his playing time dry, has shown to be effective enough to warrant playing time. Urrutia and Purify were on the team's practice squad in 2008 and it has to be assumed, without including the unexpected, that they won't break into the 53-man roster.

In truth, it's a weaker roster without Houshmandzadeh -- that much is way too obvious. However, there's also unknowns with several guys that could surprise us in 2009. The truth of the matter is, this is the wide receiver group heading into next season.

Considering the Bengals could go after a wide receiver in the draft (not the first two rounds for sure based on deeper needs), or after free agents with a list that includes:

Bryant Antonio Buccaneers UFA
Clayton Michael Buccaneers UFA
Colbert Keary Lions UFA
Copper Terrance Ravens UFA
Engram Bobby Seahawks UFA
Gaffney Jabar Patriots UFA
Hall Dante Rams UFA
Hankton Cortez Buccaneers UFA
Henderson Devery Saints UFA
Houshmandzadeh T.J. Bengals UFA
Jackson Darrell Broncos UFA
Jenkins Justin Bills UFA
Johnson Bryant 49ers UFA
Jones Brandon Titans UFA
Lloyd Brandon Bears UFA
Looker Dane Rams UFA
McCareins Justin Titans UFA
McDonald Shaun Lions UFA
Morant Johnnie Raiders UFA
Robinson Koren Seahawks UFA
Roby Courtney Saints UFA
Shepherd Edell Broncos UFA
Toomer Amani Giants UFA
Washington Nate Steelers UFA
Williams Reggie Jaguars UFA
Anderson David Texans RFA
Austin Miles Cowboys RFA
Baskett Hank Eagles RFA
Bodiford Shaun Packers RFA
Floyd Malcom Chargers RFA
Holt Glenn Bengals RFA
Hurd Sam Cowboys RFA
Moore Lance Saints RFA
Webb Jeff Chiefs RFA
Wright Wallace Jets RFA

Are you comfortable with our roster of wide receivers as it is with a few gaps to fill? Should the Bengals address the position in the draft or free agency or both?