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Free agents the Bengals should target from assistant coaches’ former teams

Which free agents could new assistants on the Bengals’ coaching staff could lure from their former teams?

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

A change at head coach usually means more changes below him.

For the Bengals, the hiring of head coach Zac Taylor has resulted in the arrival of 15 new assistant coaches, who have collectively worked with four different NFL teams; most of them just a season ago.

Those coaches, in turn, could bring in new free agents.

Brian Callahan, Lou Anarumo, and Mark Duffner could bring in players from the teams they just left themselves. LB coach Tem Lukabu is coming from Mississippi State, but is not far removed from a stint with the 49ers.

After thinking about what free agents the Bengals could sign from Taylor’s Rams, what other free agents should the Bengals try to sign?

Jared Cook, TE, Raiders

Familiarity is always high on the Bengals’ list of pros when they sign players, so the Raiders could supply a plethora of free agent signings. Reggie Nelson, Brandon LaFell, Frostee Rucker, Leon Hall, Bene Benwikere, and Mike Nugent all have expiring contracts with the Raiders.

However, if the Bengals want to make a signing that will help the team, they could look at Cook. OC Brian Callahan got to work with Cook for last season in the Raider’s offense, so a reunion could be a good idea.

The Bengals have three tight ends on expiring contracts, so they have plenty of options to review. If they don’t end up resigning all of them, they could try to sign Cook to add some veteran leadership to the group. They might want a solid spot-starter if they re-sign Eifert, who can’t even buy a healthy musculoskeletal system.

Landon Collins, S, Giants

This list would be remiss if Landon Collins didn’t appear. After serving on Lou Anaurmo’s secondary a year ago, Collins will be arguably the best safety on the market.

Collins will also come at a hefty price, and with how packed the safeties room is in Cincinnati, Collins may be best fitted to make the full transition to linebacker. With Anarumo taking over the defense, he could provide an optimal plan to best utilize the versatile defender who’s just three seasons removed from an All-Pro campaign.

Spencer Pulley, C, Giants

The Bengals offensive line was hardly improved in 2018, so they are still looking for help. Pulley was a successful spot-starter at center with the Giants a year ago, so Anarumo could try and help the Bengals go after the restricted free agent. Pulley could quite possibly re-sign with New York, but if the Bengals make an offer the Giants can’t match, then they can get some much needed help on the inside of their offensive line.

B.W. Webb, CB, Giants

The slot was a rotating carousel of struggling youngsters for the Bengals in 2018, so Anamuro could try to bring in one of his own guys to help fill the void. Webb struggled on the outside last early last season when he had to replace Eli Apple, but ended up being much better in the slot. If the Bengals don’t want to re-sign Darqueze Dennard, then Webb could be a piece they can add to Anamuro’s secondary.

Jimmie Ward, DB, 49ers

Despite being a first-round pick, Jimmie Ward never really hit his stride in the NFL. He was drafted as a safety, and spent the early part of his career backing up Eric Reid, but he has played both boundary and slot corner. The 49ers are unlikely to re-sign him because he hasn’t lived up to his potential, but a change of scenery could help him out. He had to suffer through Chip Kelly and Jim Tomsula and spent most of Kyle Shanahan’s tenure on injured reserve.

Tem Lukabu might try to lure Ward to the Bengals to help their young and tumultuous secondary. His versatility could be extremely valuable, and his new contract would be very cap-friendly.

Kwon Alexander or Adarius Taylor, LB, Buccaneers

While former Bengals Josh Shaw and Kevin Minter are on the market, the Bengals should try to go with some fresh talent.

Former defensive coordinator Mark Duffner, now a senior defensive assistant for the Bengals, has worked with a couple linebackers that he should try to bring to Cincinnati.

Alexander is a proven linebacker, but an ACL injury ended his 2018 season. The Bengals might be able to get a discount on the 24-year old because of his injury, and his familiarity with Duffner.

Where Alexander could be a long-term solution to the linebackers problem, the Bengals could go with a short-term fix in Taylor. Alexander’s replacement at the end of the season, Taylor had a pretty good season playing in the middle of the defense. If the Bengals move on from Vincent Rey and Vontaze Burfict, Taylor would immediately be the most experienced linebacker on the team, so he could do some good in helping guys like Jordan Evans, Hardy Nickerson, Malik Jefferson, and Devin White (if the Bengals were to draft him).