The Bengals are in a state of transition, and this offseason should show just how much of a transition that will be.
They started by parting ways with Marvin Lewis as their head coach, but we have already heard rumors of the team possibly pursuing quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Could they go even further than that?
Mike Florio Pro Football Talk presented the Bengals as a possible landing spot for Nick Foles this offseason:
Only four other teams would seem to be obvious potential suitors: The Dolphins, Bengals (maybe), Jaguars, Raiders (maybe), and Broncos. Everyone else seems to be set at the position, and most of the teams with older quarterbacks (like the Patriots, Steelers, Chargers, and Saints) would presumably throw the incumbent overboard only for a much younger player.
Pro Football Talk also listed the Giants and Washington as obvious landing spots, but not ideal for where the Eagles would like to see Foles land.
The Eagles have a $20 million option on Foles this offseason, which seems hard to imagine them using. If they were to do so, Foles could buy his way out of that, according to Pro Football Talk. If it came to that point you’d have to imagine the Eagles would also be willing to use the franchise tag on Foles, which insures they can get some sort of compensation as well as keep him from joining a division rival. The risk to do so remains very high when they could end up taking on the bill of paying their backup quarterback either $20 million or around $25 million next season (the latter being fully guaranteed).
If Foles were to leave, which seems likely at this point, could the Bengals find themselves in the conversation for his next team?
The simple answer is only if the Eagles allow him to become an unrestricted free agent. Unless they were able to unload Andy Dalton in a trade, it is hard to believe Cincinnati would give up any meaningful compensation for a quarterback who is about to turn 30 and hasn’t been good anywhere else. The free agent market — even the trade market — for a veteran quarterback should be fairly saturated with guys like Teddy Bridgewater, Joe Flacco and Tannehill all being available through one means or another.
Those three will likely be on a different team than the one they are on now, but Cincinnati doesn’t seem like the place where any of them could land, unless you buy into the Tannehill rumors. If they aren’t a player in that market, why would they go after Foles?
It is hard to imagine Foles choosing to join the Bengals as a free agent though if teams like the Giants, Jaguars or Redskins are interested in bringing him in. Those teams either provide situations where he can play the Eagles twice a year or a team that is ready to desperately throw a huge contract at a quarterback.
The magic of Foles started when he took over for Carson Wentz in Week 14 of the 2017 season, and it seemed like what was once a promising season was going to end in disappointment. However, Foles engineered a miraculous end to the season by only losing one more game. He had six passing touchdowns (also he caught a touchdown in the Super Bowl) and one interception during his three-game postseason run that ended with him returning to Philadelphia with its first championship.
He was put in a similar situation this season as Wentz once again went down with injury. He managed to help lead the team to the playoffs and a win in the Wild Card round, but they were eliminated by the Saints in the Divisional round. Since then, the Eagles have stated that Wentz is indeed the team’s future quarterback. That leaves Philadelphia and Foles in a weird standing this offseason.
You can’t really rule anything out for the Bengals this offseason as it is the first time things have changed significantly in 16 seasons. If we are basing it on past trends though, it is hard to imagine Foles ending up in Cincinnati.