It is no mistake that the Bengals are struggling on defense this season. With the NFL trade deadline approaching, there are a pair of big name cornerbacks available who could make an immediate impact on the Bengals defense. The trade deadline is during the Bengals’ bye week, which would give them extra time to get a new player acclimated.
The Bengals have three former first round picks at the cornerback position, but all three currently have an issue. Darqueze Dennard is out, and the team is hoping to have him back shortly after their bye. In the meantime, they would be forced to face the Drew Brees and New Orleans Saints without their starting slot corner.
William Jackson has been impressive, but has been dinged up and missed some time himself. Dre Kirkpatrick has had struggles both with tackling and giving up big plays. Adding a reliable player to this group would be huge for the Bengals.
One option, albeit outlandish, is Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson, who is demanding a trade from the Cardinals. Peterson is one of the league’s top cornerbacks and is under contract through 2020. It is a popular (and fair) complaint about the Bengals defense that Jackson does not flip sides and shadow the opposing team’s best wide receiver. If they had Peterson on the other side of the formation, it wouldn’t matter. They would have two number one cornerbacks.
Besides the $11.25 million price tag over the next two seasons (more in the third) the only issue is if he would be interested in playing for the Bengals. He would likely prefer to go to a team that he knows will be a Super Bowl contender and may have apprehension about playing in Cincinnati.
The other option is Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. Adding Harris is more advantageous from the Bengals perspective for a few reasons; the first is versatility. Harris plays all over the formation, including in the slot where is matches up well with wide receivers and tight ends. This means the Bengals could plug Harris in at slot cornerback while Dennard is out. When Dennard returns, Harris could play outside in base and nickel packages and play the slot opposite Dennard in the dime package. Furthermore, Harris is under contract through 2019, so he could replace Dennard if he leaves in free agency this offseason.
The other advantage is the price tag. Harris is making 8.5 million this season and will be making 7.9 million the last year of his contract. This is a big discount compared to Peterson.
If the Bengals hope to make a playoff run this season, they need to make some changes in a hurry. Adding a talented defensive player before the trade deadline could give them the spark they need to start playing to their potential. Peterson or Harris would provide a huge upgraded at one of the most important positions on the defense.