Mike Sando of ESPN has recently taken it upon himself to rank which team are most likely to go through roster changes this offseason.
The Bengals ranked near the bottom of the NFL. Here is what he had to say on why the Bengals won’t be making huge changes to their roster:
23. Cincinnati Bengals
Indicators: ninth-oldest starters
Only the Steelers and Browns got fewer 2017 snaps from veteran players who are unsigned past this season. That number is a little misleading because Tyler Eifert, Jeremy Hill and AJ McCarron are three bigger-name players who could reach free agency after combining to play only 202 snaps last season. The Bengals could realistically part with all of them.
It is important to note Sando made this list with clues like coaching changes, scheme changes, front office changes, expectations average player ages and starters that are unsigned going into the offseason.
It makes sense that the Bengals won’t be changing much. That was decided by Mike Brown when he re-signed Marvin Lewis for two more years after the season ended with the Bengals going 7-9.
Despite Lewis saying the team will be “starting from scratch” early after being re-signed, the motto has quickly changed to not drastically changing. Bill Lazor was retained as the offensive coordinator. He will have his chance to put his spin on the offense instead of trying to call plays under Ken Zampese’s system.
The team also hired Teryl Austin who has said he won’t be making drastic changes, but he plans to be more aggressive and tailor the system to the players.
With the idea that the ideology will be changing to fit the players more, it makes sense that the team won’t go out of its way to shake up the roster as much as teams looking for a dramatic turnaround.
The major thing that Sando touched on, was the pending free agents for the Bengals. The team doesn’t really have any major free agents hitting the market outside of Eifert, but he has hardly played since having his monster 2015 season. If all of those players walked then the team wouldn’t look very different from the team that was out there for most of the season.
Really the Bengals haven’t suffered from a lack of talent. Sure they need offensive tackles and a few athletic linebackers, but no roster is perfect. What really held this team back last season was failing to get the most out of these players. A.J. Green barely had over 1,000 yards, and the team was still using Hill until he opted for season ending surgery despite being the least effective running back of the three.
The passing game was a mess. Part of that was scheme and not giving Andy Dalton the proper time to make plays. Plus Dalton could shoulder plenty of the blame himself, but he is the kind of quarterback who needs talent around him, and the Bengals failed to do that this past season.
Really the biggest change we could see from free agency is the team allowing Russell Bodine to walk, and either allowing Christian Westerman to take his place or drafting another center in the early rounds of the draft.
Outside of that the Bengals will probably use the draft as their main source of bringing in talent. The Bengals may have a little over $30 million in cap space, but the free agency market isn’t exactly filled with talent at their positions of need.
Overall, people may be upset that huge drastic changes aren’t coming to the roster, but the truth is if these coaches can elevate these players even a little bit, then this team should have a very good chance at reaching the playoffs again next season.