Zac Taylor’s team has the first overall pick in this year’s draft. But these last few months have seen already seen a change in the Cincinnati Bengals.
It’s a franchise that usually doesn’t invest a lot of money when it comes to signing players from other teams. And for the most part, it’s been understandable considering the Cincinnati Bengals have been more than successful when it comes to stocking its roster via the NFL Draft.
While the team is in the midst of a horrible stretch that has seen five straight playoff appearances from 2011-15 morph into four consecutive losing seasons and a combined 21-42-1 mark, a lack of talent isn’t necessarily the issue.
But this offseason, the team has abandoned its philosophy of so many years and been very busy during free agency. The emphasis has been on defense, a unit that has fallen off dramatically as of late.
In 2018, the Bengals gave up the most total yards and most passing yards in the league and were 29th vs. the run. This past season, the team finished with an NFL-worst 2-14 record due in large part to a unit that allowed the most rushing yards in the NFL while ranking 29th in total defense.
So enter defensive tackle D.J. Reader (Houston Texans), physical safety Vonn Bell (New Orleans Saints) and a trio of cornerbacks in former Minnesota Vikings’ Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander as well as LeShaun Sims (Tennessee Titans). Veteran inside linebacker Josh Bynes from the rival Baltimore Ravens should be an asset also.
The team also added some experience on the other side of the ball. Well-traveled guard Xavier Su’a-Filo (Dallas Cowboys) could figure on the right side of the offensive line. And wide receivers Mike Thomas (Los Angeles Rams) adds depth behind A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and John Ross.
By all indications, the Cincinnati Bengals will have a new quarterback by Thursday evening. And who knows what else the club is planning during the draft. But this offseason has certainly been a little unpredictable for a franchise that has played it pretty close to the vest for many years.