The Bengals aren’t exactly a team known for being active in free agency. Traditionally the Bengals like to bring their own veterans back in free agency and look to the Draft to fill any holes. Every once in awhile a guy like Brandon LaFell, Karlos Dansby, A.J. Hawk, or James Harrison will catch the team’s eye in outside free agency, but that area of team building is almost always exclusively reserved for cheap veterans trying to prove they have something left in the tank. That said, not everyone within the Bengals’ organization agrees that is the best approach to take. Particularly, A.J. Green recently gave his opinion on what the Bengals should do in the offseason.
“We have to make some moves and put some guys in pieces,” Green told Paul Dehner Jr. of Cincinnati.com. “We always draft well, so we’ll be fine there, but if we get some pieces on the defensive side of the ball I think we’ll be fine. Get that 2014 defense back.”
That perspective is common among Bengals fans who wish the team would place more value on players who can contribute right away, rather than investing in players who need time to develop. However, the Bengals have done a good job of developing that talent and retaining most of their own players over the years. They will likely want to continue doing that, as explained by Andy Dalton.
“What do we need? Hard to say,” Dalton said. “We need to get some of our guys back. That would be nice. If we can get some of the guys who are free this year back with us and continue what we have with continuity.”
Whether you agree with Dalton or Green, they both have a point. As dangerous as it can be to over-pursue the wrong free agents and lose a semblance of continuity, it can also be very beneficial if done the right way.
“We got to make the right moves,” Green said. “Atlanta went out and got Mo (Sanu). Got a couple other guys.”
In addition to Sanu, the Falcons also picked up Alex Mack, Courtney Upshaw, Derrick Shelby, and Sean Weatherspoon who all contributed in various roles in 2016. Shelby and Weatherspoon are both on Injured Reserve at the moment, but they contributed enough to justify being signed in the offseason. And, look where the Falcons are now.
While it’s unclear whether the Bengals will be more aggressive in free agency this offseason, Green praised some of his current teammates heavily, including Andrew Whitworth, who he doesn’t want to see gone.
“Whit is playing out his mind and we need that guy back,” Green said of the 35-year-old left tackle and free agent-to-be. “One guy we can’t lose is Whit. He brings so much more to the table than just his playing. His leadership and the way you carry yourself. I hope we bring him back.”
Focusing on re-signing their own players is the Bengals’ way. They tend to reward loyalty with more loyalty, so hopefully Dalton and Green will most likely get their wish with a guy like Whitworth. That said, with how spotty the Bengals played in 2016, it’s hard to disagree with Green that adding outside free agents could make a big impact.
“We need a little bit of everything,” Green said. “It would be nice to get a pass rusher, help out Mike (Johnson) and Carlos (Dunlap).”