The Bengals showed some signs of life in the 2018 offseason by being slightly more aggressive in free agency and drafting immediate impact players.
If they want to back up new head coach Zac Taylor’s statements about being forward-thinking, the Bengals need to build off last offseason and continue evolving their team-building process this year.
Let’s take a look at some of the best ways for the Bengals to prove they are serious about establishing a winning culture.
1. Nail the remaining coaching hires
The Bengals still have two huge hires that they have to make and they have to get them right if they want to succeed: defensive coordinator and offensive line coach. The reported candidates for defensive coordinator are slightly concerning with Dom Capers emerging as the favorite; however, they could still get it right with a hire out of the blue.
They were previously linked to Bill Callahan coming from Washington to become their offensive line coach, but recent reports state that Jim Turner is now the preferred candidate. There’s still time to get these hires right, but these two would not instill the most confidence.
2. Be aggressive in free agency
The Bengals have two major needs at offensive tackle and linebacker. It would be best if both of these positions were comfortably filled before the NFL Draft so they wouldn’t have to play rookies in those spots. The market for offensive tackle isn’t as strong as it is at linebacker, but there are a handful of players who the Bengals could afford to man the right edge of their offensive line.
At linebacker, there are several impact players for the Bengals to choose from, C.J. Mosley of the Ravens being the cream of the crop. Addressing both of these positions by signing quality starters would go a long way of establishing a different culture.
3. Draft immediate impact players
The Bengals did well with this last year, drafting starters with their first two picks and a heavy rotational player with one of their third-round picks in Sam Hubbard. If the Bengals want to continue to show that they are serious about winning, they should continue to draft players that can make immediate impacts. They should, however, not be sacrificing talent at the same time.
The Bengals cannot reach for a player, but they cannot afford to draft players to sit on the bench for most of their rookie contract either. The Bengals need to find the best mix of need and value.
4. Continue to explore the trade market
It is not clear yet what players are on the trade block for every team, but rumors always pop up and the Bengals should not be afraid of making another trade like they did last year when the acquire Cordy Glenn.
The Patriots got their left tackle Trent Brown, who played all season for them in a trade that cost them almost nothing, and the Bengals themselves upgraded left tackle by simply dropping nine spots in the first round.
There have been rumors that the Bengals may be interested in moving on from Andy Dalton and bringing on Ryan Tannehill which could net the Bengals positive value through trades. If there is a player who a team is trying to trade who would fill a need for the Bengals they should try to acquire them.
Look heavily at linebackers that teams are not happy with or on teams that are trying to tank, and most importantly be aggressive.