Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis chatted with the local and national media at the Combine on Friday and let us in on a few thoughts that addresses free agency and the NFL draft.
Most of Geoff Hobson's article quotes Lewis' hope to get T.J. Houshmandzadeh signed to a long-term deal, hoping for the wide receiver to be more of a committed teammate by showing up for voluntary camps. Lewis hints that the Bengals aren't out of the running for Houshmandzadeh, who says that his chances of returning at less than 10%.
As for Houshmandzadeh leaving, Lewis is still hopeful about last year's second round draft pick Jerome Simpson. Another free agent could be close to signing back with the team.
Lewis sounded as if they're about as close to signing right tackle Stacy Andrews at any point in their torrid, off-again, on-again relationship over the past two years in an effort to get a long-term deal and said Andrews is hoping to stick around. But there is no deal yet and with the prospect of him going on the market, Lewis wouldn't discuss Andrews' recovery from reconstructive knee surgery.
However, this quote by Lewis clearly shows that the Bengals are looking to work on offense.
"We've got some good young players (on defense) and we've got the draft upcoming, so I don't see where we go out and that's going to be a fit for us defensively," he said. "We have more apparent needs offensively, whether it be at tackle, center, running back, and obviously with T.J. in his situation."
In truth, most of us knew this. We knew that the Bengals weren't likely to draft a defensive end because of the money tied up with Robert Geathers and Antwan Odom. After drafting two defensive tackles last year, acquiring another young tackle off waivers and signing Domata Peko to an extension, defensive tackle was out. The best candidate for a defensive player is still a middle linebacker.
However the needs for a pure NFL-ready (if it exists) offensive tackle and center have always been greater -- we need Palmer to stay healthy. Based on negotiations with Cedric Benson's agent, that could include running back. But there's still time.