The Cincinnati Bengals’ 2017 offseason was one to forget.
Between keeping Marvin Lewis, losing Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, not landing an impact player with the No. 9 pick, and failing to upgrade the offensive line, the Bengals had about as bad of an offseason as any NFL team.
That was a big reason why the Bengals got a poor grade in ESPN’s re-grading of all 32 teams’ 2017 offseasons. Cincinnati was previously given a B- grade, which looks very kind in hindsight of what was, in reality, a bad offseason.
Re-grade: C | Offseason grade: B-
The Bengals had a plan, but as one exec put it when the original grades were published, their season would hinge on whether Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi emerged as competent tackles. That did not happen, and when injuries predictably felled first-round pick John Ross (and veteran tight end Tyler Eifert, for that matter), the offense lost its way.
Fourth-round pick Carl Lawson made a positive impact with 8.5 sacks, and second-rounder Joe Mixon showed enough late in the season to suggest that good things lie ahead. It’s just tough to give the Bengals the benefit of the doubt when they let top offensive linemen leave without viable replacements.
John Ross giving the Bengals nothing in his rookie season, despite being a top-10 pick, was likely the biggest reason for the lesser grade.
The good news is not all was lost. The Bengals had some great additions in the 2017 NFL Draft via Carl Lawson and Joe Mixon, two rising stars that have bright futures ahead of them. They really helped salvage what otherwise could have been the worst offseason any NFL team had.
Still, allowing Whitworth and Zeitler — two of the NFL’s vest at their respective positions — was something no NFL team can allow to happen in the same offseason. That proved to be a major bungle that the Bengals never did fully overcome.
Let’s hope they don’t make that kind of mistake in one offseason anytime soon.