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The Bengals can’t forget about this need during the offseason

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The Bengals have a major need outside of their offensive line that they shouldn’t ignore once the offseason starts rolling.

Buffalo Bills v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

ESPN created a list of the biggest offseason needs for every NFL team, and the choice for the Bengals wasn’t shocking.

Still, there is another need that is just as dire that the Bengals shouldn’t forget about this offseason.

First, here is what Katherine Terrell ESPN had to say for the Bengals biggest need:

Address issues along the offensive line

The offensive line actually played better down the stretch, despite being forced to slot left guard Clint Boling at left tackle after losing several starters throughout the season. The Bengals never really addressed their offensive line after losing Pro Bowlers Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth to free agency last offseason, which was a serious mistake. They parted ways with offensive line coach Paul Alexander, and now they should address every part of the unit. Everybody but Boling should be considered for potential replacement

This is pretty much perfect. It is very true that one of the Bengals biggest mistakes was their mismanagement of their offensive line this offseason. Maybe they should’ve re-signed Whitworth or Zeitler.

Maybe they should’ve added a few more veteran tackles to compete with Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher. Why they put so much faith into Ogbuehi?

We may never know.

The team will also have to make a decision on Russell Bodine, who is set to hit free agency. He hasn’t been very good since taking over the starting center role, so that should be an easy decision.

The Bright spot is the team saw some promise from Alex Redmond and Christian Westerman towards the end of the season when injuries forced Boling to play left tackle. Keeping Boling at that position is unrealistic though.

The offensive line was a real mess, but another source of frustration this season was on the defensive side of the ball. The Bengals’ linebackers were a real issue for the team most of the season. Plenty of people will point at injuries and suspensions, but the fact is a lot of these guys didn’t play up to the level they needed to be at.

Everyone knows Vontaze Burfict is talented, but his inability to consistently stay on the field is forcing the Bengals to go deeper on their depth chart then they’d like. This has meant Vincent Rey playing way more than he needs to be.

Rey is one of the biggest issues with the Bengals linebacking unit. He is the first linebacker off the bench, but he showed this season that he can’t keep up with today’s NFL anymore. He was constantly picked on in the open field by quicker running backs and couldn’t cover anyone.

Rey needs to be replaced by either another veteran via free agency, or they need to draft someone more athletic to have in that position. The hope is Jordan Evans can develop into that.

Evans was forced to play after a rush of injuries, and he showed flashes of being a viable linebacker. He also showed signs of being a rookie though, especially in coverage.

Kevin Minter also failed to impress, but the team rarely used him outside of the base 4-3 personnel once Burfict returned from injury. The team decided to play Nick Vigil instead who struggled to get to running backs before they hit their holes.

You see the common trend here? All of these guys were counted on during this season, but they failed to reach that level of play they needed to be at. When you look at struggles on third down, or even how well teams did at consistently moving the ball downfield, you can often find the culprit was somewhere in the linebacker group.

They Bengals will have to use free agency and the draft to really try and overhaul that unit, and hope Teryl Austin can get these guys into position to get stops more consistently. Otherwise this defense could have the same struggles next season.