Not even a week has passed since the Baltimore Ravens were crowned NFL champions on the league's biggest stage. Obviously that doesn't mean other NFL teams are sitting idle, at the very least discussing how to expand and improve their chances. Adam Rank with NFL.com expects that the Bengals will go big this off-season during an essay titled "Bold predictions for the NFL offseason." Running back Reggie Bush and wide receiver Mike Wallace?
"The Bengals have a ton of cap space and I can't help but think of the words of Lyle Lanley who said, "A town with money is a little like the mule with the spinning wheel. No one knows how he got it and danged if he knows how to use it." So the Bengals make a splash with Bush and Wallace. Bush is actually a great fit for Red Dalton out of the backfield and Wallace will be extra motivated for two games a year."
This brings me back to, oh, about 365 days ago. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that the Bengals might be one of the few teams willing to sign Wallace, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet. No teams, including the Bengals, were willing to give Wallace a big contract and lose a first round pick in the process. It's true that the Bengals may have a lot of money to spend, but as Geoff Hobson with Bengals.com recently speculated, the Bengals "have eyes for only a handful of free agents and free agents-to-be. And they're all on their own roster."
According to Pro Football Focus, Wallace rated as Pittsburgh's worst wide receiver, completing only 55.2 percent of the throws targeting him with six drops. Furthermore five passes were intercepted on throws with Wallace as the primary target. Contrary to popular belief that Wallace is a deep threat (only four receptions beyond 20 yards), his primary effectiveness was within nine yards over the middle, posting 25 of his 64 receptions. Admittedly Wallace had a tough time transitioning to Todd Haley's offense after being a solid fit for Bruce Arian's vertical passing attack. The Bengals also appear relatively happy with their current receiver group.
Reggie Bush is a far more likely possibility, but as been pointed out on Friday, unlikely. Bush had a respectable enough season, but there are durability and pass blocking concerns. The upside to signing a free agent is that the team could use one of their second round picks on another premium position and not worry as much about running back. Or they could sign Bush and draft Eddie Lacy to form a three headed monster with BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Either way, we've been saying it for much of the offseason already. Don't expect new blood during free agency and keep your eyes focused on the NFL draft.