Continuing our discussion about the team's draft needs (we open with the defense here):
Cincinnati has $9.6 million worth of guaranteed money to give Andy Dalton this season before the team-friendly portion of this deal kicks-in next year. For the hopeful fanatics looking for a replacement at quarterback, and that growing is growing, let me have a minute to let you down gently. Ain't. Going. To Happen. Sorry.
Jason Campbell may not return in 2015, paving the way for AJ McCarron's promotion as the team's backup quarterback. So that's exciting. If that happens, there's a seventh round quarterback that could be drafted but even that's doubtful. The Bengals are likely to go with the undrafted free agent to develop someone on the team's practice squad -- but mostly for training camp and preseason bodies.
Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill were selected in the second round of the 2013 and 2014 NFL draft respectively. We expect Cincinnati to bring (at least try) Cedric Peerman back as one of their special teams aces and Rex Burkhead rounds out that roster.
The Bengals, who didn't transfer James Wilder Jr. over from the practice squad to the offseason roster, will be in the market for multiple running backs to limit the wear on Bernard and Hill during offseason practices, as well as training camp and preseason. We're just not expecting anyone in the NFL draft -- probably a handful of undrafted free agents. We're literally talking players that would fill in the 90-man roster -- not compete for the 53.
Ryan Hewitt will return as the team's H-back/fullback.
Why not? But first, questions. Jermaine Gresham enters the offseason as an unrestricted free agent. Do the Bengals sign him or let him walk? Paul Dehner says no. If they let him walk, do they draft another pass-catcher... especially considering that Tyler Eifert is coming off a season-ending injury. Do you rely only on Eifert or wouldn't you feel more comfortable with a second pass catcher at tight end, at least until Eifert can prove that he'll stay healthy?
You could go with any direction here. Marvin Jones will be returning and Mohamed Sanu, coming off his best season, will be dropped back into a third-receiver role.
Cincinnati's top three receivers should be set in 2015, but all three will enter that year on the final year of their existing contract. We expect the franchise tag to be used for A.J. Green in 2016 if a long-term agreement isn't reached before then. Beyond that, the final three spots should be open season. Will the Bengals take a flyer on a game-changer opposite of Green and Jones or go with the status quo?
Like receiver, Cincinnati could go in any direction on the offensive line. Will the Bengals draft another offensive tackle to develop behind Andre Smith, entering the final year under contract or perhaps an eventual replacement for Andrew Whitworth. Considering the monstrous season that he had, I don't think we're at that stage right now... but the dialogue shouldn't be disregarded yet either. Guard Clint Boling is a free agent this March. Should the Bengals draft another guard to replace him? Maybe offensive guard and tackle? Maybe the same person that's interchangeable enough to play both positions... but that's a high-value pick too.