Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Bengals are hesitant to become sellers at the trade deadline.
At least that’s what Johnathan Jones of CBSSports.com is hearing.
According to Jones’ source, a single NFC executive, the Bengals have had discussions with other teams about potential trades, but they’re apparently not getting any takers due to what they want in return for their players.
“I’m hearing a lot of chatter but asking prices seem unreasonable,” an NFC executive told Jones.
This fits the narrative in Cincinnati well. Last year at this time, the Bengals were winless and could’ve easily traded away veteran players before the trade deadline. Instead, they made zero deals before finishing with the NFL’s worst record. The franchise has consistently placed high value on their players, and it has hindered their chances of making attractive trade offers in the past.
The likely trade candidates are Carlos Dunlap, A.J. Green, and John Ross III. Dunlap has expressed clear frustration with the coaching staff minimizing his role in the defense, and while the rumors with Green are more speculative after he downplayed the video of him mouthing the words “trade me”, Ross has actually approached the Bengals about a trade.
Geno Atkins could logically be a valuable trade piece since his playing time has been significantly low, but Jones is reporting that the team has no plans in dealing him away and his lack of snaps is related to his shoulder injury that he’s still recovering from.
A league source told me Atkins’ limited role is due solely to the health of his shoulder. The Bengals don’t wish to put him in obvious run-stopping roles, and there is no indication he’ll be traded away soon.
Logically, trading Dunlap would make sense from the Bengals’ perspective. One issue the team could run into is convincing the other team to take on his $13.5 million salary cap hit for 2021. One general manager told Jones that teams won’t be inclined to take on big contracts in trades due a potentially lowered salary cap for next year.
“Also, there is so much uncertainty with what the cap will be next year that most teams will be more reluctant to trade for a large cap number next year,” the GM told Jones.
Perhaps the Bengals do make a deal before November 3rd’s deadline. But history and the current state of the league tells us not to bet on it.