In the NFL, crushing losses bring inevitable questions. With the Cincinnati Bengals getting manhandled on Monday Night Football by their rivals in front of the country, many of those knee-jerk questions are growing louder.
Can Andy Dalton be the guy they need in Zac Taylor’s system? Is the new, young coach and his inexperienced staff the right group to get this team to a championship? Should the Bengals look to “earn” a high draft pick in 2020 to start over with a rookie signal-caller?
All of these are being discussed when referencing the team. Many who truly want to see a different incarnation of the Bengals are pushing for a “tank” of the season, as is being witnessed in Miami.
There are conflicting opinions and inevitable pros and cons with both sides of the argument, but it is something to touch on after an 0-4 start to the Taylor era.
After their 27-3 loss to the Steelers, Mike Florio and Peter King of NBC Sports discussed the game and Cincinnati’s future at quarterback. King, ever the Bengals critic, made an interesting observation.
In the video clip, King made a bit of a reach with a statement about the 2020 rookie quarterbacks. Talking about Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa, two guys projected to go at the top of the draft, King said that they “have to be praying they don’t get taken by the Bengals.”
Granted, King has a jaded view from his time covering the Bengals as a beat writer in the 1980s, but there is more than what is said on the surface here.
Obviously, this is a reference to the current offensive line issues, as well as the historical lack of success and longstanding reputation of being a franchise that cuts corners. With things looking so bleak in Bengaldom right now, it got us at The Orange and Black Insider Bengals podcast thinking about scenarios that took us down quite the rabbit hole.
While it’s very rare, high-profile players, mostly quarterbacks, have disallowed the NFL Draft to dictate which team they end up playing for in their career. The two most notable signal-callers that demanded trades were John Elway in 1983 and Eli Manning in 2004.
Elway was originally drafted by the then-Baltimore Colts, but with the advice of both his agent and his father, Elway threatened to play professional baseball if he was not shipped elsewhere. As we know, he went to the Denver Broncos, leading them to four Super Bowl appearances, with two wins.
The then-San Diego Chargers selected the younger Manning brother No. 1 overall just over two decades later and a similar storyline with family interference ensued. The Giants selected Philip Rivers and the two teams swapped quarterbacks with the deal working out for both franchises on differing levels.
Cincinnati hasn’t had this exact scenario play out for them, but they’ve had issues with players. While the idea of a high pick eschewing his opportunity to play for the Bengals may be a grasp at straws to many, many instances in the franchise’s history should make fans uncomfortable.
Back in 1984, Cincinnati selected University of Arizona linebacker, Ricky Hunley No. 7 overall. The Bengals, proving their financially-frugal stigma, failed to reach a contract agreement with him and Hunley was ultimately sent to the Broncos.
Instance No. 2 that could play into a rookie holding the Bengals’ hostage is the whole Carson Palmer divorce. Palmer and Marvin Lewis resurrected Cincinnati from the dismal preceding decade, but a crumbling roster that resulted in a myriad of injuries prompted the former first overall pick to want out of The Queen City.
(Side note: those who still hold acrimonious feelings towards Palmer can probably take a little bit of solace in the fact that he played for two other dysfunctional franchises in the Raiders and Cardinals).
Additionally, Palmer was far from the only disgruntled Bengals player who wanted out of the franchise because of its operational practices. Carl Pickens, Corey Dillon and Takeo Spikes—three of the team’s best players in a particular generation—all either forced the Brown family’s hand, or bolted the minute they were free agents. They were tired of how the team operates and how it results in continual losing on the field.
We also now have seen how this team’s “unique” ways in free agency and failures in the draft have affected their current quarterback in Andy Dalton. Because of abysmal play on the offensive line (and injuries), Dalton has been a shell of himself and has developed bad habits this year.
And, finally, we’ve also heard the horror stories from past players, as well as agents. T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s “jock strap story” aside, NFL player agents have made it known that they loathe working with the Bengals’ front office in contract talks. The NFL is small world and these types of stories make the rounds—especially when agents are working with young men in their early 20s.
Of course, the Bengals can’t operate out of fear of this slim possibility occurring. However, if something like this were to happen, it would be another major black eye for the franchise.
While it’s a remote possibility that a high pick would forgo the opportunity to get paid well and play for the Bengals, it would seem that Cincinnati would be the most likely franchise in which this would occur. The team’s ownership would need to sell the idea to their rookie that they are committed to winning, these deplorable organizational practices are a thing of the past and that they plan on surrounding him with ample talent.
And, more importantly, they would need to hold up their end of the bargain. What a novel concept.
Also on this week’s episode:
- Former NFL tight end and current Cardinals podcaster on the BLeav network, Ed Smith, came on the program to help us preview Week 5 against Arizona.
- Are questions on the viability of this coaching staff legitimate with just four games into the experiment?
- Do the suddenness of placing injured players on Injured Reserve and the overly-cautious approaches with other members of the walking wounded point to a tank?
Our thanks to all of the live listeners who joined us. Be sure to tune in to our live recording every week here at Cincy Jungle and on our YouTube channel. Also, be sure to join us for our listener question episode on Friday!
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