The Bengals have money to work with this offseason, and they need to use it. Having reached the playoffs three years in a row, Cincinnati is in prime position to make a big splash this offseason with their projected $30 million in cap space, eighth most in the NFL.
With that money, the Bengals should be able to resign their top free agents, as well as bring in a few big names. When free agency opens up next week, the first person Cincinnati should be talking to is Anquan Boldin.
Last year, Andy Dalton and the rest of the Bengals offense did an admiral job in the passing game, finishing eighth in the NFL in terms of passing yards per game. Nonetheless, when it came to the playoffs, their passing attack sputtered, just as it had the previous two years.
For the past few seasons, Cincinnati has counted on A.J. Green to single handedly carry the Bengals offense. While Green has done an outstanding job, he is simply being asked to do too much. With no other elite receiving threat on the other side of the field, Green gets double and triple teamed nearly every play. He may have caught almost 100 passes for 1,500 yards, but he could be even better.
To be fair, Marvin Jones did have a good season last year, but his 51 receptions, a career high for him, is less than any season Boldin has ever had. Though he may be getting up in age, Boldin’s game has always been a product of strength, toughness and tenacity, and as seen last year in San Francisco, those qualities have yet to fade. In fact, at 33, Boldin had his best season since 2008.
Put simply, Dalton needs another pass catcher he can trust unconditionally. Even if Boldin is no longer much more than a possession receiver, which isn’t necessarily the case, his presence alone will open up space for everyone on the Bengals offense.
Green was targeted 180 times last year, exactly 100 more than the next highest player. With Boldin, Green’s targets would most surely drop, while his receptions stay the same. Most of the passes which weren’t caught last year were because Dalton had no other option but to throw them into triple coverage. If Dalton gets another viable option, he would be able to complete a higher percentage of passes to both players.
The Bengals roster is very close to being Super Bowl caliber. Their defense is one of the best in the league, and their offense made major strides last season. Still, the whole team was inconsistent and fell short when it mattered the most. Cincinnati needs to sign Boldin and, more importantly, they have the money to do so.
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