After falling short of their Super Bowl goals, the Cincinnati Bengals have some questions to answer in the offseason. Key members on both sides of the ball are set to become free agents, and the loss to the Chiefs exposed some of their roster issues. The good news for Cincy is that most of their issues can be easily revolved with some good signings.
Which NFL free agent will have the most impact on the Bengals? There are plenty of strong names in the market, but one player can fill a need for this team that they’ve badly needed since arguably the end of the Super Bowl run two seasons ago.
Bengals must sign Jordan Poyer
Truth be told, this was a tough pick to make because of all of the good selections for every single position of need. The running back market is filled to the brim with talent when they decide to move on from Joe Mixon (Kareem Hunt and Jamaal Williams are good options). Offensive line help is also available, with names like Orlando Brown Jr and Andre Dillard as possible options for the Bengals.
However, one group has consistently been picked apart by critics over the last two years: the Bengals’ secondary. Cincy’s defense has been solid, but it’s also a tad bit unspectacular, if we’re being honest. A big reason for that is their struggles in keeping up with the star wide receivers. The Bengals ranked 23rd in passing yards allowed with 3,665 passing yards. They did allow just 20 points per game, but that’s not a sustainable number for them if they want to compete for a Super Bowl.
The Bengals’ already-lackluster secondary is also set to get even more depleted in the NFL Free Agency scene. After not giving the franchise tag to Jessie Bates III again, the star safety is projected to leave Cincy unless both sides agree to a deal. His partner in the secondary, Vonn Bell, is also a free agent. They do have a standout sophomore in Daxton Hill to take the reins in the event of either player leaving. However, that still leaves another safety position that needs to be filled.
Assuming that Jessie Bates leaves the team in free agency (talks between the two sides have stalled for the longest time), the Bengals must pivot and sign the other top safety in the field. Jordan Poyer is also available, and the Bills safety is one of the best players at his position as well.
Jordan Poyer had four interceptions for the Bills last season (despite missing a chunk of the season due to injury). The Bills safety has more mileage than Bates, and was also banged up for most of the year. Despite all of the aforementioned problems, though, Poyer was still able to make a big impact on Buffalo’s defense.
There is some potential concern that the Bengals will run into the same problem they had with Jessie Bates. Bates and the Cincy front-office had almost a year to talk about a potential new long-term deal. Most of the reports indicate that the FO was unwilling to hand the star safety a new deal, for some reason.
If Cincy ends up letting Bates (or even Bell, who’s a damn good safety in his own right), they should at least gun for the next best player at his position.