The Cincinnati Bengals’ unusual activity in free agency has been the talk of the fanbase since March. But right before it all unfolded, there was a sense of dread.
The top linebackers of the free agency class had all been signed off of the market, and none of them ended up in Cincinnati. Players such as Nick Kwaitkoski, Blake Martinez and Joe Schobert were all signed before the Bengals inked a deal with D.J. Reader, and Bengals fans feared that this offseason was on track to be like all the ones they witnessed in years past.
As it turns out, pro scouting director Steven Radicevic wasn’t too worried about seeing the likes of Martinez and Schobert leave for other greener pastures. It was the difference in value they ended up acquiring in the NFL Draft that allowed them to not overpay for a veteran at the position.
Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic learned that Logan Wilson, specifically, was someone Radicevic and director of college scouting Mike Potts had their eyes on.
“With (the) free agency thing, we were talking about Schobert, we were talking about Martinez — not to put Wilson in that category — but in my opinion, he’s faster than those guys, a better athlete, cover player than those guys and those guys all got 10-plus (million),” Radicevic said of their lucrative deals with the Jaguars and Giants. “So, everybody is all pissed off because we didn’t sign a linebacker in free agency but, in my opinion, we ended up drafting one that’s going to be better.”
The Bengals made it clear that they valued the depth in this rookie linebacker class. They drafted Wilson and then Akeem Davis-Gaither and Markus Bailey the day after. The value of all three of those players may very soon eclipse that of Schobert, whom the Bengals were very much in on acquiring.
The last part of Radievic’s statement sounds eerily similar to Troy Blackburn’s “Walmart” comments expressing the re-signing of Bobby Hart. In this case, it’s a good thing that Wilson is indeed the type of player he’s describing. Wilson has the makings of a long-term starter at the position who should be an asset in coverage from the very beginning.
That’s a player the Bengals should’ve ended up with by the end of the offseason no matter what means it took to acquire it.