Nothing this offseason will come close to the fast-paced drama of La’el Collins walking around the mall, but free agency is not over.
Here are six players the Cincinnati Bengals should look at bringing in for the 2022 season: three of them were on the roster a season ago and three are newcomers who could play a large role for Cincinnati.
The retirement of Ricardo Allen leaves the Bengals with a need for depth at the safety position. Before following his special teams' coordinator to New York, Ebner won three Super Bowls and was an All-Pro special teams player with the New England Patriots. Ebner would be a great fit for the Bengals’ defense and could find a role in substitution packages. Bringing this Dublin, Ohio native home would make a ton of sense.
When they selected Solomon Thomas with the third overall pick in the 2017 draft, the San Francisco 49ers thought they had the edge rusher they had been looking for. They were wrong.
Thomas is a good old fashion tweener. He’s not the prototypical long, fast, and flexible edge that most NFL teams covet, nor is he a full-time three-technique. He is a good interior pass-rusher who can take some reps on the outside on run downs.
This makes him a great fit for the Bengals. He could come in for D.J. Reader or B.J. Hill in passing situations (which is what they really need) and give Sam Hubbard or Trey Hendrickson a breather on the edge from time to time.
The first pick in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Kevin King is yet to live up to his full potential. King has shown versatility throughout his career playing cornerback, slot cornerback, and safety.
Evaluating talent isn’t just about getting the right people on the bus, it’s about getting the right people in the right seats. Bengals’ defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo is excellent in this area.
The Bengals are looking for a cornerback to put opposite Chidobe Awuzie. Anarumo was able to get more than expected out of Eli Apple last season. Could he find an upgrade with King?
At 6-3, he can match up with bigger receivers and tight ends that give other cornerbacks a problem. This is a role that Tre Flowers played nicely for them last season, but Flowers remains a free agent. Could King fit into this role?
The Bengals are expected to go into the season with Vonn Bell on the final year of his contract and Jessie Bates on the franchise tag. There is a strong possibility that at least one of them will not be with the team in 2023.
Could this be the opportunity that King has been waiting for?
Anarumo has shown this season that he can take talented players who have underperformed and find a role to make them successful. The 26-year-old King could be next.
Tre Flowers was an incredible midseason acquisition who played a major role in the Bengals’ Super Bowl run. He did an excellent job on special teams and was involved in substitution packages on defense.
Of course, the biggest impact he had was playing man to man with tight ends. The Bengals haven’t had a player who could do that in years, but Flowers did an excellent job against tight ends, including the best in the league, Travis Kelce.
The Bengals should look to bring him back if possible, but Flowers may be hoping to find a team that will give him a larger role on defense.
The Bengals are young and talented at linebacker with Germaine Pratt, Logan Wilson, Markus Bailey, Akeem Davis-Gaither, and Joe Bachie all returning in 2022.
Although Evans provides depth at linebacker, the real reason to bring him back is the impact he has on special teams. Evans only played in five games last season, but player 101 special teams snaps.
That is a huge role that special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons was forced to fill after Evans’ injury. Bringing Evans back to continue to play a key role on special teams would make a lot of sense.
After struggling with consistency in Cleveland, Larry Ogunjobi came to Cincinnati on a 1-year deal. The intent was to prove that he could live up to his potential and get a big payday the following offseason. And it worked... well almost.
Ogunjobi was a force on the Bengals’ interior defensive line, with seven sacks on the season. He also seemed to have a knack for making plays at big moments in the game. Unfortunately, his season was cut short after a foot injury in the Bengals’ playoff win over Las Vegas. Adding insult to injury (literally), Ogunjobi’s failed physical negated the $40.5 million offer he had from Chicago.
The best course of action seems obvious: Go back to Cincinnati. Ogunjobi was successful with the Bengals and was about to reach his goal of getting a big multi-year deal. It makes sense to go back, because he knows he can have success with the Bengals. He just has to do it again and finish the season healthy. If he does that, he’ll get his payday at last in 2023.
A 1-year deal at a great value makes sense for both parties.