Despite constantly preaching the practice, the Cincinnati Bengals haven’t always been able to retain the talent they’ve drafted. They lost players like Carson Palmer, Andrew Whitworth, Johnathan Joseph and numerous others that’ve impacted the team’s style on both sides of the ball.
For the Queen City’s beloved football team, they’ve always been able to depend on one position: wide receiver. The Bengals’ receivers have (almost) always shown a loyalty to the city and ownership that fans nor the front office should take for granted.
It’s not just the current group of guys that consider Cincinnati their home. It’s both the past and present receivers that have driven this culture within the group. Players like Chad Johnson stayed in Cincinnati because he believed in the team.
Johnson played ten seasons with the Bengals, signing multiple contracts to continue his stay. Over the course of that decade, he racked in almost 11,000 yards from scrimmage. A six-time Pro Bowler, Johnson set the tone for the receiving core for years to come.
Johnson’s wingman, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, played nine seasons in Cincinnati. His dedication to the team along with Ochocinco created a big-play offense that kept defenses on edge. It’s tough to say, but Johnson and Houshmandzadeh and may’ve been the best one-two receiving punch Cincinnati ever had. The duo each racked up 1,100+ yards in 2007 and combined for over nine 1,000-yard seasons.
The year after Johnson’s departure and two years after Houshmanzadeh’s exodus, A.J. Green was drafted with the franchise’s fourth top-five pick in the previous 11 years at the time. Leaving after his junior year at Georgia, Green’s seen the best of times and the worst of times throughout his stay in Cincinnati, which has included five-straight losses in the Wild Card Round followed up by three-straight losing seasons.
It hasn’t been until recently that he’s found his own Housh and has had the help he’s desired and needed since both Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu both left town: Tyler Boyd.
Alongside Green, Boyd broke out in 2018, securing his first 1,000-yard season last year. Better as the No. 2 option in the passing game, the combination of these two should thrive under the Zac Taylor-led offense.
Last season, under Marvin Lewis, Dalton, Green and Boyd all played the majority of snaps in the first eight games. Dalton, in the first eight, averaged 263 yards and over two touchdowns per game. For the red rifle, the 263 would’ve been the second-highest average of his career.
The Bengals were 5-3 prior to Green going down and eventually Dalton joining him. They were a scoring machine while healthy, and it was due to the lethal combination of Boyd and Green absolutely tormenting cornerbacks.
That said, don’t expect this to be the only season that we see these two on the field together. Although they’re both free agents, like Chad and T.J., loyalty runs deep in their veins. They’ve both said on multiple occasions that they want to return next season.
Boyd’s gone over how he’s at OTAs and working each and every snap to get the chance to sign a high-value extension. For Green, he recently talked about how Cincinnati is his home and how he wants to stay here a few more seasons.
A.J. Green (speaking at his football camp in Cincinnati) is entering the final year of his contract with the #Bengals: "I can't see myself playing anywhere else or playing in a different city." pic.twitter.com/H9nrDFfJvT— Joe Danneman (@FOX19Joe) June 7, 2019
This is what fans want.
However, what fans want hasn’t always been what the front office does. Overall, Green and Boyd should create such a force offensively that along with their desire to stay in Cincinnati, Mike Brown and company will have no choice but to pay them.
They could go elsewhere; make no mistake of that. These two would be highly valuable on the open market. At the same time, they’re loyal. They know these fans, they love these fans, and they’re ready to bring something special to this city.
Instead of bickering about Green’s durability concerns or Boyd’s weaknesses without Green on the field, let’s take them as the gifts they’ve been. Finally healthy, the duo may lead Cincinnati to the promise land.