Although the Cincinnati Bengals finished with a 4-11-1 record, the Bengals’ future looks bright heading into the offseason. With Joe Burrow leading the way on the offense, this franchise will be inching closer towards success in 2021. Bulking up the offensive line is at the top of the Cincinnati Bengals team needs list.
Cincinnati won’t have major coaching changes, so they should be able to build upon what they already have while adding some new pieces to improve the roster. The team finished as one of the worst offenses and struggled to protect Burrow after allowing 48 sacks on the year.
The defense wasn’t much better, as opposing teams picked them apart through the air, and gashed them for big gains in the run game. With multiple holes on this roster, the front office should be casting a wide net to fulfill the Cincinnati Bengals team needs.
With an unimpressive roster and roughly $34 million in cap space, the front office should be active this offseason. After bringing back some of their own talented players, this franchise should be searching for top players in the free agency pool.
Re-sign Carl Lawson
Carl Lawson is one of the better defensive ends in the NFL, and he began to shine this year. After recording 36 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles, Lawson finished with a career season.
At only 25 years old, Lawson still has a ton of juice left as he hasn’t reached his full potential yet. He seemed to stand out after the front office traded away Carlos Dunlap. Also, with Geno Atkins basically a no-show this year, Lawson proved to be a reliable player for the Bengals.
Bringing back Lawson has to be considered one of the Cincinnati Bengals team needs, as his best is yet to come. Additionally, re-signing him would let the rest of the team know that if they work hard, the front office will reward them with a bigger contract. Lawson is the anchor for this Bengals defense.
Re-sign Mackensie Alexander
Another solid defensive player for the Bengals, Mackensie Alexander should be brought back to Cincinnati. His 47 total tackles, six passes deflected, and his lone interception should be enough to land Alexander a solid deal this offseason.
With Lawson being the anchor on the defensive line, Alexander brings consistency in the secondary. He’s been a great compliment to Jessie Bates III, who is another young stud for this Bengals defense.
Locking down a solid secondary would be the best-case scenario for Cincinnati. Between Lawson, Alexander, and Bates, the front office would be able to work freely for the rest of the offseason. Bringing back Alexander should be considered one of the Cincinnati Bengals team needs.
Sign Joe Thuney
The Bengals offensive line was one of the worst in the league, as they couldn’t protect their QB, and continuously failed to open up lanes in the run game. Cincinnati is in a great position to draft a solid offensive lineman, but if they can also sign a top OL in free agency, they should jump all over the opportunity.
With that said, the front office should be aiming for Joe Thuney this offseason. During his five-year career, Thuney has yet to miss a game. He’s one of the most reliable guards in the NFL and would give the Bengals O-line an immediate boost.
Thuney is dominant in the run game and he’s one of the best pass-blocking guards in the league. He’s also versatile as he played tackle for the New England Patriots this year. Look for the Bengals to make an offer for Thuney, as improving the offensive line is one of the Cincinnati Bengals team needs.
Sign Jayon Brown
The Tennessee Titans have plenty of talent at the interior linebacker position, as Rashaan Evans is a solid ILB, and David Long Jr. stepped in nicely this year. With the Titans likely to not re-sign Jayon Brown, the Bengals should highly consider bringing in the four-year vet.
Starting his career to a slow start due to depth, Brown has been a great linebacker for the Titans. Before getting hurt this year, Brown was on pace to lead the Titans in tackles for a second straight season. In just a 10 game span, Brown wound up with 76 total tackles, one sack, eight passes deflected, and one interception.
Brown is one of the more under-appreciated linebackers in the NFL, but the Bengals’ defense would vastly improve if they can bring him in. Considering how bad Cincinnati’s defense has been, the front office should consider signing Brown. He’s a solid tackler, can stop the run, and is fantastic in pass coverage. He would check off a few marks on the list of Cincinnati Bengals team needs.
Sign Brian Poole
Another defensive player the Bengals should consider signing is Brian Poole. Before getting hurt, Poole was on pace for his best year yet for the New York Jets. Finishing the season with 44 total tackles, two interceptions, seven passes deflected, and a sack, Poole would enhance Cincinnati’s secondary greatly.
Poole might be on the radar for a lot of teams, but considering the secondary is one of the Cincinnati Bengals team needs, this front office should make sure they offer Poole a decent-sized contract. He might not break the bank, but with multiple teams bidding, the Bengals might have to pay more than they want to. Either way, they should pull the trigger for Brian Poole if they have the opportunity.
Cincinnati Bengals Team Needs: NFL Draft
Entering the 2021 NFL draft, the Cincinnati Bengals will have the fifth overall pick. This year’s draft should help the Bengals find solid talent to put this roster over the top in a few years. The focus should be to fulfill the Cincinnati Bengals team needs first, but after that, they can look almost everywhere else to improve the roster.
Draft an Offensive Tackle
The offensive line should be high on the Cincinnati Bengals team needs, as Joe Burrow suffered a season-ending injury in Week 11. With that said, having the fifth pick overall should provide the Bengals what was missing this year.
There are three options the Bengals can do here. First, the front office could hope Penei Sewell falls to them, which is extremely unlikely. He’s the best OL in the draft, and he’s likely to be gone within the first four picks. Second, Cincinnati could trade up and secure Sewell, but it may cost this franchise more than they’re willing to give up. Lastly, they could trade back and select one of the offensive lineman available later.
For Bengals fans, either option would be a great decision, as Sewell would give the Bengals a massive improvement right away. However, if the Bengals don’t land Sewell, a few other offensive linemen that would be a great fit are Wyatt Davis, Rashawn Slater, and Alijah Vera-Tucker.
Draft a Tight End
Between Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, Cincinnati has a great 1-2 punch in the passing game. However, AJ Green will be leaving, and the team doesn’t really have a solidified third target for Burrow yet.
They could go with a WR, but instead, the Bengals could be selecting a steal by taking a tight end in the second round. Although Kyle Pitts will be long gone before round two, a couple of prospects that could fulfill the Cincinnati Bengals team needs are Pat Freiermuth and Brevin Jordan.
Load Up on Defense
After stocking up the offensive line and securing another target for Burrow, the Bengals should aim to load up the defense for the remainder of the draft. The Cincinnati offense should be good to go if they solidify the O-line, but acquiring defensive help is one of the Cincinnati Bengals team needs.
In rounds three through seven, the Bengals should have plenty of talented prospects to choose from. It also doesn’t matter which positions are drafted, as the front office should be drafting the top available player in the rest of the draft. Some defensive names that really stand out in the later rounds are Josh Jobe, Tyler Shelvin, and Azeez Ojulari.
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