On Tuesday, ESPN's Matt Williamson released an In$ider article detailing his offseason grades for each NFL franchise. Unlike his previous grade-assigning article back in April, which only took into account the first few weeks of the free agency period, this one was focused on a more general viewpoint encompassing both the draft and free agency.
So how did the Bengals fare? (Fair warning, if you don't like vague statements and shallow reasoning, you might not want to venture any further.)
Williamson's grade: C-plus.
Williamson's comment: The Bengals have one of the more talented young rosters in the NFL right now, but what worries me most is the quarterback. I grade Cincinnati negatively for not using even a mid-round pick on a guy like Ryan Nassib or Tyler Wilson to push Andy Dalton and provide some sort of a backup plan. In the end though, considering how much cap space they had and their draft resources, I would have liked to have seen the Bengals do a little more this offseason.
Hensley's comment: I was more impressed by the Bengals' offseason and gave them a B. Much of this grade is based on a potentially great draft, which is headlined by tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard. Yes, the Bengals could've spent more in free agency. But I wouldn't hold that against the Bengals as much if they can use that to sign Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson or Carlos Dunlap to an extension. Overall, the Bengals didn't add much but they hardly lost anything either, retaining most of their players from a team that went to the playoffs for the past two seasons. The signing of James Harrison brings more pass rush to Cincinnati as well as much-needed attitude.
At this point, when dealing with Williamson's articles, I'm starting to feel like Arrested Development's Michael Bluth, when he opens a bag found in his freezer labeled, "Dead Dove, Do Not Eat." We both know there is going to be an avian carcass inside, so why bother looking?
Is Williamson an old-time Western villain twiddling his mustache nefariously after he has tied an effigy of the Bengals to a set of railroad tracks? No. But are his views towards the team a bit shallow and one-dimensional? No question.
Sure, the criticism about not doing enough to push quarterback Andy Dalton does have some legitimacy, but his grade was supposed to be for an entire offseason of aggregate moves, not for his perceived failure to adequately address one spot on the roster. And as for not doing enough with their ample cap space and "draft resources," these arguments are incredibly vague. What more could the Bengals have done with their draft resources? And when did spending money in the short-term gain more importance than setting it aside for extensions in the long-term?
As usual, Hensley swoops in with a little more perspective on the situation,and offers up a fairer "B" grade. Frankly, until the Bengals actually do re-sign some--or all--of their cadre of young defenders to extensions, a "B" seems about right. As Hensley says, the Bengals "didn't add much but they hardly lost anything either." Until they complete their offseason plans, it would be premature to assign them much higher.
So what do you think? Agree with Williamson? Disagree? Want to tar and feather him? Let your voices be heard.