This is a brand new article series that I am starting called “If I Were a GM.” This series will be articles about things I would do if I was the general manager of NFL Teams and list out the perfect scenario that could play out. I’m going to go through each NFL team and highlight some offseason moves and draft picks that would set that respective team up for the future. All 32 NFL teams will be included in this series and the series will end before the 2019 NFL Draft. I’m going to be wheeling and dealing and I hope you guys enjoy the series.
The Bengals are one of the most polarizing teams in the NFL. If I was the GM, this year is when I would hit the reset button. We have some cap space and we need to get rid of the bad contracts and mediocre play. New head coach and a new roster to grow together.
What I have to work with: 21 million in cap space and 9 draft picks (Rounds 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (3), and 7)
Notable Players: Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, William Jackson, Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd
Biggest Needs: Everything besides running back
Cap Space Maneuvers
Alright we are going to get funky with this. Like I said, If I was the GM of the Bengals, I would hit the reset button. Releasing Burfict, Hopkins, and Bowling will push me up to 34 million in cap space. I know I can probably get some late draft picks but I do not want to be on the hook for any dead money.
After releases: 34 million in cap space and 9 draft picks
Trade A.J. Green for a second round pick- Using one of my only trade pieces to net a high draft pick is key. A second round pick would be great as Green is over 30, injury prone, and has a 10 million dollar cap hit. Make no mistake he is one of the best receivers in the game when healthy and that is why he can net me a second rounder. Teams like the 49ers, Jaguars, and Patriots would be willing to pay the price for Green. Considering the 49ers had extreme interest in acquiring a star wideout, and both OBJ and AB are on new teams, Green would be the best choice. I believe the 49ers would trade their second round pick for A.J. Green.
After trades: 50 million in cap space and 11 draft picks (Rounds 1, 2 (2), 3, 4, 5, 6 (3), and 7)
With plenty of cap space and needs, it is easy to see the Bengals spending dumb money. However, there are only a few free agents that the Bengals should pay for. They must prioritize a combination of youth and upside. Signing Aaron Lynch and Shane Ray will add some much needed pressure and tackling on the edges. They will not command top dollar, both are 26, and both have upside. Committing 10 million a year to these guys should be the goal. Lastly I would sign Zach Brown. He has been a tackling machine and having him in the middle of my defense would add some stability and leadership. 8 million a year should be enough.
After free agency: 32 million in cap space and 10 draft picks and additions of Aaron Lynch, Shane Ray, and Zach Brown.
Trade: Bengals trade overall selections 11, 110, and a future third rounder to the Bills for selection 9
Round 1, Pick 9: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri- The Bengals should draft the quarterback. Jumping two spots ahead in front of the Broncos makes this pick possible. Lock has the most natural arm in this draft and with some time to develop, can lead an exciting offense in Cincy.
Round 2, Pick 4 (From 49ers): Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma- Ford might not be here at this pick, and is he isn’t then the next tackle on the big board, Kaleb McGary, would be the pick. However, if Ford is here, he fits a huge need at tackle. Ford has excellent technique and has protected the last two Heisman winners.
Round 2, Pick 10: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan- I couldn’t be more happy with this pick as he would immediately step in as the leader of the defense. Bush is a rangy linebacker with a nose for the ball. With sideline to sideline speed, he leads a rejuvenated linebacker group.
Round 3, Pick 8: Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn- Selecting the fastest player at the 2019 combine would be awesome here. Dean is a height-weight-speed freak. He has had injuries to his knees in the past and was only a one year starter at Auburn. Drafting Dean and letting him develop slowly the next couple of years can potentially give the Bengals a shutdown corner.
Remaining draft picks should be used on offense: WR, TE, OL,
The Bengals should do a nose dive into rebuild mode. Letting Andy Dalton be a bridge QB and potentially releasing or trading him would be the plan. Trading A.J. Green gives them some flexibility and assets for the coming years. A young defense now includes William Jackson, Dre Kirkpatrick, Jamel Dean, Aaron Lynch, Shane Ray, Zach Brown and Devin Bush. The offensive line got a much needed offensive tackle in Cody Ford. Finally, Drew Lock and Joe Mixon can grow together for the next coming years and bring a new era to Cincy.