Cincinnati Bengals free agency 2020: Top 5 targets

Cincinnati Bengals, NFL Free Agency

The Cincinnati Bengals are in the middle of the pack regarding available salary-cap space. Here are five free agents they should target this offseason.

The Cincinnati Bengals have a lot of work to do. In their first year without Marvin Lewis for the better part of the 21st century, Cincinnati ended up with the worst record in football, coming in at 2-14 in 2019. This landed them the No. 1 overall pick and the right to draft 2019 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow out of LSU this spring. But they have to get this poor kid some help fast!

Cincinnati is right in the middle of the pack regarding available salary-cap space entering the 2020 NFL season at roughly $49.6 million. The Bengals have a few key pieces they’ll need to bring back on new deals, and we’ll touch on those players here shortly. They also may need to look at adding a key free agent or two outside of the organization to make them more competitive next year.

No, Cincinnati is not a marquee free-agent destination. This is a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game since 1990, the longest active streak in the NFL. Notoriously cheap under owner Mike Brown, the Bengals very much have a mom-and-pop feel to them as an NFL franchise. But this doesn’t mean general manager Duke Tobin can’t make a few good deals this offseason.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will this new era of Bengals football. Head coach Zac Taylor is about to get his shiny new toy at quarterback. Let’s hope for The Geauxt’s sake Cincinnati doesn’t break him as the expansion Houston Texans did in the early 2020s. Here are five players the Bengals need to target in free agency to make their football team better.

5

Tyler Eifert

TE Cincinnati Bengals

This may sound controversial, but it’s not a bad idea to play it year-by-year with long-time Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert. The former 2013 first-round pick out of Notre Dame has had one of the most injury-riddled careers of anybody in recent memory. He has played in 59 of a possible 112 games in his seven-year NFL career. However, he did something for the first time in 2019.

Yes, in a 2-14 year, Eifert played in all 16 games for the 2019 Bengals. He had 43 catches for 436 yards and three touchdowns. Though not in the stratosphere of his Pro Bowl season in 2015, it’s something the Bengals can certainly work with going forward. No, Tobin shouldn’t give Eifert a multi-year contract, but bringing him back for 2020 on a one-year deal could be huge for Burrow.

Remember, tight ends are young quarterbacks’ safety valves. Keep in mind that the quarterback position was in flux last year for the Bengals with both Andy Dalton and rookie Ryan Finley starting games. Sure, throwing Burrow out to the wolves may not be a great idea, but if the Bengals do go in that direction, he’ll need a receiving target he and Taylor trust going forward.

One could argue that a change of scenery may be the best thing for Eifert in his fading NFL career. With as banged up as he has been up to this point, you could totally understand if he’s not willing to return to Cincinnati on another contract. However, his familiarity with the Bengals and their familiarity with him at least keeps open the possibility of him returning to the Queen City in 2020.

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