There's an AFC North team looking to pick up wide receivers right now. The Bengals? Sure. They could use someone. But the Baltimore Ravens are being aggressive in their pursuit to upgrade a relatively weak position for, hell, forever. Jamison Hensley writes that the Ravens are reportedly "looking at free agent Kevin Walter and Arizona's Anquan Boldin to improve their wide receiver position."
The idea of Kevin Walter returning to Cincinnati has generated some interest. While with the Bengals, Walter struggled with playing time having guys on the roster like Chad Johnson (as he was known at the time), T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chris Henry and even Kelly Washington at times. His best season with the Bengals was 2005, recording 17 receptions for 211 yards receiving, scoring his lone touchdown that year in his three-year career in Cincinnati. Then the Houston Texans signed him away as a restricted free agent and the receiver flourished playing opposite of Andre Johnson. Since 2007, Walter has averaged 59 receptions, 770 yards receiving and 14 total touchdowns.
The thing that could hamper any attempt at convincing Walter to return is that the Bengals may not be willing to offer as much as other teams who are just as desperate for upgrading their receivers. First of all, they already have a good idea about Walter and paying him more than $7 million could force the Bengals to shy away. And would that money be worth it for a three-year average that's 16 receptions and 256 yards more than what Laveranues Coles produced in 2010?
There's not many unrestricted wide receivers out there that are top notch players so the market for a guy like Walter (who I wouldn't call "top notch") could be inflated, which would likely cause the Bengals to move on and investigate other possibilities.
Such as Anquan Boldin.
One man crimewave wants the Bengals to give up their 2010 third round draft pick to trade for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin. While the compensation seems more than reasonable, if not super-tempting, the Bengals would only be halfway there. There is no assuming. Boldin wants a long-term contract and if no deal is struck, the Bengals would only have Boldin for one year (and he'd probably be all pissed off), whereas the third-round pick would bring you at least four seasons -- provided they find someone that will contribute. Players that the Bengals drafted in the third round since Marvin Lewis came to Cincinnati: Kelly Washington, Caleb Miller, Landon Johnson, Chris Henry, Frostee Rucker, Andre Caldwell, Pat Sims, Michael Johnson, Chase Coffman.
Something else to keep in mind. If the Bengals play with the idea of trading for Boldin for a third-round pick, they might benefit by having another third round draft pick as a compensatory pick with free agency departures last offseason.
I would expect the Bengals to keep exploring all of their options as long as they're there. But realistically speaking, I wouldn't expect the Bengals to acquire any top wide receiver names that are available in free agency or through trade. Then again, Laveranues Coles kind of came out of nowhere last year. Not that it matters. He's back to being at nowhere.
What's your alternative? Get used to Jerome Simpson.