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Bengals move up in NFL GM Rankings

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Mike Brown, Katie Blackburn and Marvin Lewis continue to manage the Bengals like a top-10 NFL franchise.

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals front office has been among the NFL's best for the past five years.

That's helped propel Cincinnati into the playoffs for four straight years while keeping much of the roster intact. They've also went out and plucked guys like Wallace Gilberry, Terence Newman and Mike Pollak for close to nothing, only to have them become significant contributors.

The Bengals have also hit it big in the draft with guys like Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard, George Iloka and Marvin Jones after Round 1. Combine all of that, and you've got a team that's averaging 10 wins the past four years.

All of that helped Cincinnati to rank 6th overall in Rotoworld's latest NFL GM rankings, up one spot from 7th in 2014.

6. Mike Brown/Marvin Lewis, Bengals

Last Year’s Ranking: 7

Perhaps the most under-reported aspect of the Bengals’ return to relevance is that they’ve done so without the benefit of a general manager. Whether it’s a way for famously-thrifty owner Mike Brown to save a few pennies or a canny acknowledgement that measurables matter more than the human eye, it’s worked. There are quibbles.

The Bengals lack a franchise quarterback, and are 0-for-the-postseason under Marvin Lewis. Impact players are often allowed to walk in free agency. But those are just nitpicks for a team that’s gone from laughingstock to annual contender in the league’s toughest division. It may not be clear where the credit lies, but it’s more than deserved.

The signature move Cincinnati made this past year was letting star pass-rusher Michael Johnson leave to sign a lucrative deal with the Buccaneers, only to re-sign him once Tampa cut him this offseason while also getting a third-round compensatory pick for basically renting him out for one year.

That's a big reason why the Bucs came in at 23rd in Rotoworld's rankings. That also shows why Cincinnati has made the playoffs four four straight years, whereas Tampa hasn't been there since 2007.