The Cincinnati Bengals have had interesting and attention grabbing off-season’s in years past. The team always seemed to make a splash. Some of the offseason fireworks included the signing of Terrell Owens and Antonio Bryant.
Also, the trade demands of former Bengal players Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco come to mind. The attention wasn't always a positive and maybe the Bengals have learned that headline grabbing deals in free agency do not necessarily translate into wins.
In recent weeks, the Bengals have stayed pat and signed average players in free agency. They haven't gone out and signed a big name back up wide receiver to complement rookie sensation A.J. Green. They didn't go get the best offensive lineman or cornerback available.
Instead, they stayed pat and signed some mid-level players on defense and a slightly above average running back named Benjarvus Green Ellis. Green-Ellis nicknamed, "The Law Firm" is a high character guy, who played his first four seasons in the NFL with the New England Patriots.
A lot of people in Cincinnati have criticized the Bengals for not becoming major players in free agency.
The common thought is that the Bengals have a lot of cap room and should use it. Well, who was the last team that had big free agent signings and won a Super Bowl? The Packers, Steelers and Patriots are legitimate Super Bowl contenders year in and year out, yet they don’t feel the need to make big moves in free agency. Those teams draft well and develop from within. Then, after the guys they draft are established; they reward their own players with good contracts.
The Bengals seem to be modeling themselves after some of the best franchises in all of sports. Although, I am not sure if I completely believe they will continue the trend of drafting well, like they have in recent years; I’m surely not going to criticize them for it.
Regardless of their history, the Bengals have made some great moves in the past year. In fact, many Cincinnati fans called last offseason the worst one in history, until they saw the product on the field. The team replaced Chad Ochocinco with the younger, more talented A.J. Green.
They replaced Carson Palmer, with Andy Dalton who proved in his first season that he was NFL worthy. Bengals owner Mike Brown traded the "retiring" Carson Palmer to the Oakland Raiders for a 1st round draft pick and a 2nd round draft pick.
Palmer wasn't even playing at the time! Mike Brown practically stole draft picks away from the Oakland Raiders.
The team went on to have a very successful season, winning 9 games and making the playoffs for just the third time in 22 seasons. This is no time to criticize Mr. Brown or Head Coach Marvin Lewis. The organization might be finally making the moves or not making the wrong moves that have doomed them in the past.
I am not saying the addition of free agents would hurt the team, but the path to a championship is having an organization that builds through the draft and develops its’ own players. Winning the headlines in March, does not help you win games in January.
There is a reason that the Bengals were able to sign Benjarvus Green-Ellis and take a weapon away from Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Cincinnati didn’t overpay for “The Law Firm,” who accepted a three-year, $9 million contract from the Bengals.
Green-Ellis doesn’t just have a cool nickname. He has plenty of talent left and he is only 26 years-old. He had to see something within this organization to accept a contract with the Bengals. Cincinnati is a team on the rise and this is the perfect time to model itself with the top-tier teams in the NFL.
Who knows, it may not work out. But, the Cincinnati Bengals have to become a perennial contender at some point. Maybe that time is closer than many think.
|Could A.J. Green and the Bengals franchise be on their |
way to becoming a perennial contender?