As it currently stands, the Cincinnati Bengals have one of the deepest rosters in the NFL. The Bengals also have a number of all-time great players in their history--even if they haven't brought a Lombardi Trophy to the city of Cincinnati.
When thinking of a specific team, it's fun to wonder what the results would look like if a great historical player were to be on the field with a modern incarnation of the roster. And while the Bengals are one of the younger teams in the league, in terms of when they were formed, there are still a number of players from each decade who stand out among the rest.
With the team first taking the field in 1968, there were only two years in the 60s to fiele potential members to fit on the 2016 roster. Because of that, we are going through 1968-1979 to find some players today's team could use. So, using a blend of current needs, coupled with the talent of past players, we've come up with some quality additions that this year's Bengals team could use (playing in their prime).
Bob Johnson, Center, 1968-1979: "The Original Bengal" was the Bengals' first selection as an NFL franchise at No. 2 overall in 1968. The Bengals don't retire jerseys, which is a point of contention with the fan base, but Johnson's No. 54 is the only one the team has retired in its 48-year existence. Johnson was a Pro Bowl player in his rookie season and played 12 seasons in Cincinnati--mostly as a team captain. With Russell Bodine yet to become a solid starter at center, Johnson would likely be a linchpin in the middle of today's offensive line.
Paul Robinson, Running Back/Kick Returner, 1968-1972: Robinson was part of the same Draft class as Johnson, as the Bengals took him in the third round in 1968. Robinson had a great start to his career, garnering both Pro Bowl and All-Pro designations as a rookie and then went to the Pro Bowl again in 1969. Aside from being a dual threat on offense, Robinson also aided in the kick return game while in Cincinnati. While the current team is largely set at running back, another dynamic threat who could return kicks would be a valuable addition.
Bob Trumpy, Tight End, 1968-1977: Trumpy goes down as one of the best draft selections the team has ever made--both in value and his production. After being selected in the 12th round for the Bengals' inaugural Draft class, Trumpy played 10 seasons in Cincinnati, making three Pro Bowls. He also helped to revolutionize the tight end position during a time when it wasn't always a major factor. With Tyler Eifert recovering from an ankle injury and some inexperienced guys having to step in, Trumpy would be a great weapon for Andy Dalton.
Lemar Parrish, Cornerback/Kick Returner, 1970-1977: Unfortunately, the relationship between Parrish and the Bengals deteriorated to the point that he was traded to the Redskins before the 1978 season. Still, in the eight years he spent with Cincinnati, Parrish made the Pro Bowl six times, with one All-Pro designation. He and Ken Riley teamed up to be one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL during that time, but he also greatly contributed as a return man. Parrish would likely have an Adam Jones-like role in playing on both defense and special teams for the 2016 Bengals team.
Ken Riley, Cornerback, 1969-1983: "The Rattler" was a longtime defensive back for the club and actually got better with age, as he garnered 13 interceptions with three returned for touchdowns in his final two seasons. Some believe he should be in the Hall of Fame because of his 64 career interceptions, but a lack of other accolades hurt his chances. While the team just invested heavily in the cornerback position this offseason, it would just seem criminal if we left Riley off the list, even if he wouldn't have a huge impact because of positional crowding.
Bill Bergey, Linebacker, 1969-1973: Before there was Vontaze Burfict and Rey Maualuga, the Bengals had another linebacker enforcer in Bergey. Like many players in the era, Bergey fell at odds with the organization and left for Philadelphia after the 1973 season. He was a Pro Bowler as a rookie, and garnered nine interceptions in five years with the Bengals. Though he's more remembered as an Eagles fan favorite, he initially earned his reputation as an intimidator with the Bengals. With Burfict suspended for the first three games of 2016, Bergey would be a nice fit with the other big thumper linebackers the Bengals employ.
Isaac Curtis, Wide Receiver, 1973-1984: Another guy who revolutionized his position, Curtis was a speedster and big-play receiver. He made the Pro Bowl his first four years in the league and teamed with Ken Anderson to form a great quarterback-receiver tandem throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. He was the team's career leader in touchdown receptions until Carl Pickens and Chad Johnson broke the records much later. Curtis may be the player who makes the most sense to add to this year's roster, in terms of fitting in, Curtis' sizzle would be a great complement to A.J. Green.
Coy Bacon, Defensive End, 1976-1977: I hesitated putting Bacon on the list because of his limited time in Cincinnati, but his short stint had a profound effect. He made two Pro Bowls with the club and many felt he would have been a borderline Hall of Fame player had quarterback sacks been an official statistic during his NFL career. If they had been, Bacon would still remain the Bengals' single-season sack leader. With Margus Hunt and Will Clarke struggling to find consistency behind Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson, Bacon would be a nice rotational piece up front.
Jim LeClair, Linebacker, 1972-1983: LeClair took over as a captain on defense once Bergey left and teamed with Reggie Williams to form an imprdefense duo on defense. He made a Pro Bowl with the Bengals in 1976 and had 10 interceptions in his career. He would make a good addition to the current Bengals team due to his versatility. LeClair played in the middle and the left during his tenure with the Bengals, and his ability to move around in a defense matches with what Marvin Lewis likes out of his players.
Tommy Casanova, Safety/Kick Returner, 1972-1977: The need for a returner brings us to another versatile player who contributed in a couple of fashions. Casanova made three Pro Bowls, including one All-Pro designation, and had 17 interceptions along with four returns for touchdowns (two interceptions, one punt, one fumble). With Reggie Nelson leaving in free agency and Brandon Tate continuing to be a lightning rod for fans, Casanova would be a good player to have on the Bengals' current roster.
So, which Bengals from the 1960s and 70s would you want on this year's roster?