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Best NFL free agents available who the Bengals could consider ahead of training camp

Training camp is a few weeks away and the Bengals’ roster is full. Could the team still make some roster changes to bolster the competition?

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals boast a fairly deep roster, but there are still plenty of players on the free agent market who could compete for spots on the roster.

Here are a few NFL free agents who the Bengals could consider as training camp approaches and gets underway.

Julius Thomas, tight end

Tyler Eifert has proved that he is an injury liability throughout his career. Of course the Bengals have guys like Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah behind him, but aside from Kroft being a nice redzone target, neither has provided all that much value during their careers.

There is an obvious risk that Thomas is not be the same player that Peyton Manning made him out to be. Three seasons after recording 12 touchdowns in Denver in 2014, Thomas has compiled 12 more touchdowns. Thomas still has the huge frame that makes him a matchup nightmare, and giving him a one-year prove it deal could motivate him to perform at that 2014 level again. At worst he doesn’t make the team and you still have the same depth at the position.

Luke Joeckel, offensive lineman

Joeckel was a former second overall pick he is now sitting at the bottom of the bargain bin in free agency. He has struggled, and that is plain to see. Still, the Bengals didn’t add a ton of new faces to the offensive line competition considering how they performed last season, and pickings are slim at this point in free agency.

Joeckel’s one saving grace is his run blocking. He has shown the ability to be able to open up some running lanes, but really this signing would be taking a risk and hoping Frank Pollack can make something out of a player who once had such high potential.

Johnathan Hankins, defensive tackle

Hankins is a somewhat surprising player to still be available. He finished last season as the 20th ranked defensive tackle by Pro Football Focus, and he is really only one year removed from getting a sizable deal from the Colts. Hankins is a very talented interior lineman, known for his run stopping ability, which is something the Bengals could use. Sure, the Bengals have a few defensive tackles on the roster already, but Hankins could contribute to this roster.

The main reason for Hankins’ availability may be his asking price. But, we have reached the point of the offseason where if you haven’t signed with a team, no one is going to give you much more than a one-year deal. Hankins is rumored to be looking for a bigger multi-year contract. If that is true then the Bengals are out of the running. They would be looking for bargains, if looking at all.

Colin Kaepernick, quarterback

Please don’t rush to the comments before reading this.

From a pure football perspective, Kaepernick is better than any backup the Bengals currently have on the roster. I get there will be a major blow back, but after a few weeks people won’t care anymore because he won’t be playing.

Kaepernick obviously has talent. He helped lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl, and he was only one play away from winning it. He has the ability to extend plays with his legs and boasted one of the strongest arms in the NFL. Bill Lazor could have a field day grooming him into being a formidable NFL quarterback. For a team with the offensive line trouble the Bengals have had, using a guy who can escape the pocket and create plays is invaluable. Look at how well Deshaun Watson did behind the garbage fire offensive line the Texans fielded.

This move is especially doubtful considering the nightmare response it would likely create and what we already saw happen in Cincinnati with Eric Reid, but from a football perspective, would you really trust Jeff Driskel or Matt Barkley more than Kaepernick?