The Cincinnati Bengals were the worst team in the NFL this season, and it wasn’t even close.
They finished with a league-worst 2-14 record, and now, they are entering an offseason in which they have too many needs to count.
Of course, the Bengals will be able to fill their primary need by taking quarterback Joe Burrow with the first overall pick, but Cincinnati has more holes than just under center, and there is no way the Bengals will be able to patch all of them up in one offseason.
Nevertheless, Cincy can make some progress this offseason by targeting these three free agents:
3. Javon Hargrave, Defensive Tackle
The Bengals were bad against the run this season. Like, really, really bad.
It’s obvious that Cincinnati needs to beef up its interior defensive line and add some run-stuffers across the board, and one name to examine in that regard is Javon Hargrave.
Hargrave has spent the first four seasons of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and has been one of the NFL’s most underrated defensive linemen. Not only is he good against the run, but he is also a solid pass-rusher and is coming off of a 2019 campaign in which he totaled 60 tackles and four sacks.
The 26-year-old might also be fairly affordable in comparison to some of the other defensive linemen available, so with the Bengals likely having around $50-60 million in cap room, Hargrave would be a prudent acquisition.
2. Joe Thuney, Offensive Guard
While fellow free-agent guard Brandon Scherff is probably the better player, Joe Thuney has one significant advantage: durability.
Thuney entered the league with the New England Patriots back in 2016 and has never missed a game, representing a steady presence at left guard.
He may not be among the best is the best, but he is solid, and the fact that he has been able to remain healthy is huge for a Bengals club that is in desperate need of stability.
Thuney is also just 27 years old, so he has some room to grow.
He could be in for a hefty pay day, but with Cincinnati badly needing some help along the offensive line, it might be worth doling out big bucks to land him.
1. Chris Jones, Defensive Tackle
Chris Jones is probably the best defensive lineman available in this upcoming free-agent class.
Yes, he will have a host of suitors (and that’s if the Kansas City Chiefs don’t immediately place a franchise tag on him) and may not want to settle for the lowly Bengals, but money talks, and Cincy should do whatever it can to convince him to come.
He isn’t Aaron Donald, as Jones is more of a pass-rusher than an all-around monster on the interior, but Jones would be of significant help to a Bengals defense that totaled just 31 sacks in 2019.
Jones registered 36 tackles and nine sacks this season, and in 2018, he racked up 40 tackles and 15.5 sacks.
Because he isn’t great against the run, Jones isn’t your prototypical defensive tackle, but his ability to take on multiple blockers and collapse the pocket is unparalleled by most, and his mere presence would elevate Cincinnati’s defense.