NFL Cincinnati Bengals

5 Free Agents the Cincinnati Bengals Should Target This Offseason

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Free Agents the Bengals Should Target This Offseason

Bengals
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

For the third straight season the Cincinnati Bengals made it to the NFL playoffs. For the third straight season they lost a first round game and have yet to win a postseason game with Andy Dalton at quarterback. The Bengals have a solid foundation with A.J. Green, Giovanni Bernard and a very good defensive line. Before this season, everyone thought they were set at QB, but the play of Dalton in the postseason has given Bengals fans reason to doubt.

Dalton finished the regular season with 4,296 yards passing and 33 touchdowns. The 33 TDs ranked third in the league behind Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. However he also threw 20 interceptions, which was fifth most in the league and the most by any QB who made the playoffs. In their playoff loss to the San Diego Chargers, Dalton threw one touchdown and two costly interceptions.

The Bengals have done an exceptional job bringing in rookies over the past couple years. They haven't really needed to reach for top tier free agents because of the young talent they bring in. In the last three years they have either drafted or signed Green, Dalton, Bernard, leading tackler Vontaze Burfict and corner Dre Kirkpatrick. Their ability to scout players and get contributions from rookies allows them to target a select group of free agents instead of having to fill all their holes in free agency.

A team that has made three straight postseasons obviously has plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. However, a team that has yet to win in the playoffs needs to upgrade certain positions to get them over the hump. These are the players the Cincinnati Bengals should go after to try and get them a playoff win in the 2014 season.

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5. Josh McCown

McCown
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Quarterback may not be the biggest need for the Bengals right now, but it could turn into one during the season. Andy Dalton is still the franchise quarterback, but after the playoff failures he may have lost the confidence of the front office and the support of the fans. If he struggles to begin the season, they will need a veteran to turn to and try to salvage the remainder of it.

Josh McCown was one of the best quarterbacks in 2013, but because of his age is not considered someone you can build around. With the Bears signing Jay Cutler to a long term deal, McCown will likely look for somewhere that he has a chance to play and maybe win a Super Bowl.

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4. Shaun Phillips

Phillips
Isaiah Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The James Harrison experiment didn't exactly work out for the Cincinnati Bengals. He finished the season with just 31 tackles and two sacks as a pass rushing specialist. The Bengals have Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict, who are in on most plays, so once again they need to target a pass rushing linebacker. Shaun Phillips finished with 35 tackles and 10 sacks for the Denver Broncos and would be looking for a job as just a pass rusher at his age.

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3. Brandon Albert

Albert
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The Kansas City Chiefs spent the No. 1 overall pick on Eric Fisher and they expect him to be their left tackle. With the amount of money Brandon Albert will make as a free agent, it's likely that they won't try to resign or franchise him. With Anthony Collins set to be a free agent, the Bengals could get a franchise left tackle in Albert, which is something difficult to find.

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2. Jairus Byrd

Byrd
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The Cincinnati Bengals have one of the best secondaries in the NFL. With Adam Jones, Terrence Newman and Dre Kirkpatrick at corner and Reggie Nelson at safety, the Bengals finished fifth in the NFL in pass defense. Signing Jairus Byrd would give them a big upgrade over George Iloka and one of the biggest playmaking safeties in the NFL.

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1. Jeremy Maclin

Maclin
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

A.J. Green is a top five receiver in the NFL and may be the second best in the league. The Bengals get by with a group of decent receivers to round out their core that includes Ben Tate, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Andrew Hawkins. Signing Jeremy Maclin would give the Bengals one of the best duos in the NFL and would allow the other guys to slide down into a more natural slot for them.