The Bengals will have to play most of the 2020 season without one of their biggest free agent acquisitions, Trae Waynes. He was added to replace Dre Kirkpatrick who was cut this offseason, but an injury to his pec will leave a hole in Cincinnati’s secondary.
Many expect the Bengals to approach this with a next-man-up attitude, but one writer thinks Cincinnati should dip their toes back in free agency to replace what they expected Waynes to bring. Ali Bhanpuri of NFL.com thinks bringing in Logan Ryan could benefit both sides.
Cincinnati is unlikely to find a better CB replacement than the 37th-ranked free agent on NFL.com’s Top 101 list. The Bengals’ coaching staff should be quite familiar with the eighth-year pro, as Cincy defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has faced him 10 times since 2013 while serving as the DB coach for the Dolphins (2012-17) and Giants (‘18). As much as Ryan wants to be viewed as a safety, it’s the two-time Super Bowl winner’s experience on the perimeter and in the slot that will likely be the reason he gets paid this season.
While the former Patriot and Titan surrendered six touchdowns and allowed a 92.5 passer rating to opposing QBs when he was the nearest defender in 2019, he also picked off four passes and had the second-most passes defensed (19), according to Next Gen Stats. You take the good with the bad if you’re the Bengals because A) you’ve got the cap space and B) there are too many potent passing attacks to deal with in the division. A competitive one-year agreement would seem to benefit both sides: Cincinnati would have a clear out once Waynes returns to 100 percent; Ryan would get to rebuild his market value for a possible 2021 windfall. Let’s make a deal!
The first thing that sticks out to me is Ryan wanting to be viewed more as a safety, and several analysts note Ryan’s ability to play multiple positions on the defense. He may even be viewed in the same way as a Tyrann Mathieu is in his versatility.
While that is all well and good, it is a bit of a redundant role on a defense that already has Vonn Bell, Shawn Williams and Mackensie Alexander who either have experience or are expected to fill that inside defensive back position. While playing Ryan on the outside may not end up being bad, it may be a matter of him not wanting to play a season almost solely on the outside.
Timing also has to be considered at this point. The start of the regular season is getting closer and closer, and you have to consider how bringing in a new face to a position you already have a decent amount of payers at may not work out as well as possibly getting some younger guys some valuable reps.
If the Bengals were a legitimate Super Bowl contender, the move would make sense. This team is still very young and finding out what kind of player you have in young guys like Darius Phillips may be more valuable in the long run than spending another chunk of the cap (even if they can afford it) on a one-year replacement.
It seem the Bengals are more than content to allow the younger corners a chance to compete for this opportunity as well, and it isn’t just Phillips they are excited about. Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator reminded use earlier this month not to sleep on LeShaun Sims or Winston Rose. He specifically noted their length, success and experience in meaningful games.
Bringing in Logan may be the best move towards winning now, and the Bengals have shown they aren’t done bringing in players when they signed defensive tackle Mike Daniels, but that was after the position became extremely thin. If we see more defensive backs go down then this could very well be a move the Bengals pursue, but right now it seems like they are content with developing the talent they have.