Seven Mid-Tier Free Agents Cincinnati Bengals Should Look At
High Profile Players Like Reggie Bush Are Probably Out
The 2013 NFL off-season, like nearly every off-season, finds fans of the Cincinnati Bengals looking for the team to add some big-named free agents to get them over the hump and make them into Super Bowl contenders. These fans are inevitably disappointed when the front office signed only a handful of mid to lower tier free agents to supplement the players taken in the draft. Even with the recent successes, fans still remember the many lean years and their grudge against Mike Brown causes them to become angry over the lack of high profile additions. Successful teams in the league tend to build through the draft, eschewing the big contracts associated with big names. The Bengals are taking this correct route, though many fans are loathe to credit Brown.
The coming free agency period has fans once again talking about who the Bengals might add to the roster. Reggie Bush, Jairus Byrd and Mike Wallace among others are all players whose names have been mentioned as possibilities to be signed. These players are obviously very good and certainly have value, however, they also cost a lot of money and impair the team's ability to re-sign their own talent in future seasons. As the perennial winners have discovered, mortgaging the future for a temporary gratification isn't smart most of the time. Still, some free agents will be added to go along with the draft picks. Here are seven players who cheaper alternatives to the big names but who could have some value on the Bengals roster.
LaRod Stephens-Howling spent his first four seasons for the Arizona Cardinals, mostly as a backup running back. His numbers aren't staggering but he did perform well in some spot starts, surpassing 100 yards twice in 2012. His smallish frame isn't suited for full-time duty, but he provides a nice option as a #3 RB and has kick return ability as well.
Mike Goodson is another player who could be a solid addition as a #3 RB behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis and a rookie as well as be the team's kick returner. He does have some injury history, which is why he won't cost a lot.
The Houston Texans were very good at the tight end position in 2012, with Casey and Owen Daniels both as valuable members of the team. Casey is an excellent blocker and has very good hands, something Cincinnati could use at the TE spot.
The Bengals have some history with bringing in former first round picks and trying to revive their careers. Aaron Curry was once considered the safest pick in the draft but failed, so far, to live up to the expectations. After bouncing around a little, the Bengals seem like a good fit for the linebacker, with Mike Zimmer possibly giving him his last chance to show what he can do.
Linebacker is definitely a position in need of upgrading before the 2013 season. If the Bengals look to add depth, especially in the middle, Chase Blackburn could be an option. His entire career up to this point has been spent with the New York Giants after signing as an undrafted free agent. Most well known for his interception of Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, Blackburn could give depth and even start if the Bengals can't find the right player in the draft.
Justin Durant might be the costliest player on this list after having a very good year for the Detroit Lions. The Bengals could almost certainly use LB depth but Durant could step in and start right away, erasing the need to draft a LB early. He could be very valuable at the right price.
Darius Butler is a former second round pick that struggled early and was cut before finally finding a home with the Indianapolis Colts last year. He isn't the most dominant of corners but he was solid. Depending on who the Bengals re-sign in the secondary, cornerback could be a position in need of some new blood. Butler could be a good signing for a relatively low amount of money.