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Trade with Cardinals could provide instant upgrade to Bengals defense

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Adding Haason Reddick or Deone Bucannon could give the Bengals defense the boost they need.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

So far in the 2018 season, the Bengals are looking like a serious contender. The offense has looked incredible and is one of the top units in the league. On the other hand, the defense has had its struggles, specifically defending the middle of the field.

The Arizona Cardinals are having a bad season under first-year head coach Steve Wilks. After starting the season 0-3 with Sam Bradford at the helm, they’ve now turned to to first-round quarterback Josh Rosen to salvage their season.

But their struggles transcended more than who was at quarterback. On defense, linebackers Haason Reddick and Deone Bucannon have not found their fit in the team’s new system, and the Cardinals may be looking make a deal.

The return of Vontaze Burfict is a major upgrade to the Bengals defense, but the linebacker position is still a concern. Burfict and Preston Brown are both talented players, but the Panthers game proved that the Bengals lack depth at the position and even with the pair back in the line-up the overall speed of the group leaves something to be desired.

Reddick is a stud athlete whose size and athleticism elevated him into the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Reddick started 3 games as a rookie, but has seen his workload drop off in Year 2.

Reddick has a long and lean build and could matchup with tight ends well in the pass game. Bucannon is a converted safety who was a primary starter for the Cardinals since for 3 seasons. His speed would set him apart in the Bengals lineup and make him useful as a nickel linebacker.

Both linebackers have struggled in a new defense, so a change of scheme may help them get back on track.

The Bengals shouldn’t be the only ones interested in either player, but they are a logical trade partner with the Cardinals. Both players offer the Bengals a needed speed upgrade at the linebacker position. Reddick just turned 24, has a ton of potential, and is still on his cheap rookie deal. Bucannon has experience, but is still only 26. A fresh start for either of them on a team ready to win now could do wonders for them.

The Bengals could likely get either in exchange for a mid-to-late round draft pick, and would have to release a backup at the position to make room. This would allow the Bengals to upgrade the linebacker group immediately and hopefully give the defense the boost they need to make a playoff run.