The NFL offseason is trucking along, and we are almost a stones throw away from the NFL Draft. This is usually the time we maybe see the Cincinnati Bengals snag their first free agent of the offseason, but Cincinnati has actually flipped the script and been extremely active.
So when ESPN released their new power rankings to reflect where teams stand after free agency, you may be surprised to find out that Cincinnati still ranks dead last.
32. Cincinnati Bengals
Three words: Shifting spending patterns. Cincinnati’s conservative approach to free agency went out of the window this year after the Bengals spent more than $112 million on three players — defensive tackle D.J. Reader, cornerback Trae Waynes and wide receiver A.J. Green. The aggressiveness is needed for a franchise in the middle of a rebuild. It also prepares for the arrival of quarterback Joe Burrow, the projected No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft. The spending spree is imperative for a roster that needs a slew of upgrades. — Ben Baby
The ranking doesn’t make a ton of sense given how many free agents the Bengals have added who should have instant impacts. Reader and Vonn Bell should be instant starters that show a dramatic upgrade over the players they are replacing. Waynes and Mackensie Alexander will also likely be starting in the secondary, and Josh Bynes provides a nice veteran safety net at the linebacker position that is a huge upgrade over anyone the team had last season. Not to mention the team secured A.J. Green playing another season in Cincinnati.
Considering the Bengals’ worst attribute at times last season was their defense (especially their run defense), you’d think adding players like Reader and Bell, who will drastically help that area, could give the Bengals the nod of not being the worst team in the NFL. It is especially frustrating when you consider this entire power ranking is based off of how teams have positioned themselves after the first few waves of free agency.
This is a team that lost eight games that were decided by eight points or less last season. This wasn’t a team that was blown out week after week. Having just a few more polished guys out there should mean this team is viewed in just a slightly better light. They shouldn’t be ranked in the top half of the league or anything, but they shouldn’t be ranked as the worst team in a free agency power ranking considering what they’ve done this offseason. That has to be the most surprising sentence I think I’ve ever written.
The only hope left is that after the team drafts quarterback Joe Burrow first overall Cincinnati can finally dig their way out and earn some respect.