The offseason of no respect for the Bengals continues.
The latest example is at ESPN, who just released offseason grades for all 32 teams. Despite having a productive offseason that saw several major needs addressed, ESPN felt it was necessary to give the Bengals a ‘C’ for their offseason.
They also gathered opinions from anonymous team executives, who had mixed opinions about the Bengals’ roster, specifically Andy Dalton.
There wasn’t much to get excited about in Cincy as the Bengals brought back Marvin Lewis for a 16th season before drafting a center in the first round. They did potentially upgrade their offensive line with Cordy Glenn. They also added a veteran defensive coordinator (Teryl Austin) to replace Paul Guenther. But after losing their arbitration case with quarterback AJ McCarron, the Bengals lost an alternative to Andy Dalton without getting much in return (they figure to get a late-round comp pick).
”I don’t hate Cincinnati’s roster,” an exec said. “It is just going to come back to the quarterback play. It is the fork in the road for Dalton, isn’t it? When you are talking about a quarterback at a breaking point and a lame-duck coach to a certain extent, I never feel like those work out well. They could surprise me because they don’t lack talent, but it is more likely that the wheels come off than they go 12-4.”
Another exec thought corner William Jackson and running back Joe Mixon were breakout candidates this season.
”Cordy Glenn has to stay healthy,” this exec said. “They could be a team that could be in the mix in part because of their division but also because the entire AFC is so weak.”
While the Bengals certainly have some question marks, it isn’t fair to say they’ve had a ‘C’ offseason. A big reason why the offseason has been a success was because of how well the Bengals utilized their first-round pick.
When they ended the 2017 season on a two-game winning streak, they went from possibly having a top-five pick to not even being in the top 10, severely damaging their hopes of landing a player ready to make a huge impact in 2018 and help turn this franchise’s fortunes around.
That win streak effectively cost them a chance to take guys like Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey, who were widely viewed as the two best linemen in this draft. But both players wound up being selected in the top 10, thus leaving the Bengals without a good lineman to take at No. 12 had they stayed there.
Yet somehow, the Bengals managed to parlay the No. 12 pick into not one but two impact offensive linemen. They ended up trading the No. 12 pick to the BIlls for Cordy Glenn to move down to 21, then took Ohio State center Billy Price there.
That one pick turned into two players that will dramatically upgrade this offensive line, which was easily the biggest weakness on the team in 2017.
Adding to the big changes, the Bengals replaced Paul Alexander with Frank Pollack, who’s become one of the best offensive line coaches recently. The addition of Pollack, Price and Glenn was about as good of a job as any NFL team did at upgrading their biggest weakness.
That’s what the biggest goal of the offseason is, to fix your biggest issues. The Bengals did just that, which is a big reason why their grade should be higher than a ‘C.’