There is a lot of talent in the AFC North. Despite looking relatively weak in 2016, each team has a number of players any other team in the NFL would absolutely love to have. From the Bengals, any other team would likely steal guys like A.J. Green, Geno Atkins, or Carlos Dunlap in a heartbeat. However, without taking salary cap into account, if we could pick one player from each of the Bengals’ division rivals to add to the team, my vote would be for these players:
The Cleveland Browns had their chance to steal away a young, talented player from the Bengals this offseason in Kevin Zeitler, leaving a huge hole at the guard position. The Bengals brought Andre Smith back this offseason with the intention of playing him in the vacated guard role, but wouldn’t it be nice if the Bengals could replace Zeitler with another young, talented player at the position?
Personally, I was hoping the Bengals would pick up DeCastro in 2012 with the 21st overall pick. Instead, the Bengals traded down and the Steelers swiped him up at 24. The Bengals picked up a solid player in Zeitler, but DeCastro has already been to two Pro Bowls. Of the two, he is probably the more well-rounded player, and would be an excellent long-term addition for an offensive line in desperate need of productive talent.
The Bengals aren’t exactly hurting for talent at cornerback, although it is true you never know what you’re going to get from a starting tandem of Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick. The Bengals have a lot of young talent at the cornerback position, although most players have yet to pan out at a high level. When healthy, Haden is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL year in and year out, and he is only 28 years old. He was a Pro Bowler in both of his last two seasons uninhibited by injury (2013, 2014).
In addition to being a great move for the Bengals, the move could revitalize Haden’s career. Playing for a team like the Browns, who have consistently been in a rebuilding phase, has taken it’s toll on Haden’s state of mind over the years.
“We f——— can’t stand losing, it hurts,” Haden told the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2013. “I go out there and put my f——— heart out there every time. Every time. You know what I’m saying? And we end up coming up short.”
Can you blame him? The Browns went 4-12 in his best season as a pro (2013), and have only come close to a non-losing record once in his career (7-9 in 2014).
With so much talent in the same places the Bengals have talent, and so many holes in the same places the Bengals have holes, it was difficult to figure out who the Bengals should steal from the Ravens. Then again, maybe I was looking in the wrong place all along. The Ravens have arguably the best player in the NFL at a position the Bengals are currently struggling with. That position is kicker, an often overlooked position, but one that has been a huge problem for the Bengals recently.
Granted, the Bengals recently drafted Jake Elliott, who is competing with Randy Bullock and Jonathan Brown for the vacant kicker spot. Elliott is the favorite, and it would be a shame to lose out on developing someone with his potential. But, you simply can’t pass up the chance to add a 27-year old player like Tucker who made 97.4 percent of his field goals last year, all of his extra points, and has the leg strength to back it all up. After dealing with Mike Nugent’s struggles for the last few years, it would certainly be nice to have some consistency and promise at kicker.
Do you agree, Bengals fans? Would you choose these three, or different players if given the opportunity to steal one player from each team in the AFC North? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!