Now that free agency appears to be winding down and the NFL draft is coming into view, the big question is what other personnel changes are left for the Cincinnati Bengals to make.
As it pertains to higher-level free agent signings, the Bengals done. Any other adds they make will come in the form of players who are backups and who can contribute to the depth at certain positions.
To get this weekend's Bengals mailbag rolling, we start by exploring what Cincinnati may do next:
@ColeyHarvey: Thanks for the question, Bryan. The Bengals still have a couple of in-house unrestricted free agents who could be re-signed, as you mentioned. Quarterback Jason Campbell and running back Cedric Peerman seem like the most likely of the remaining free agents who could return to Cincinnati. Aside from them, the Bengals have a few other holes to fill either with depth additions in free agency or the draft. Although they got their No. 2 defensive end in Michael Johnson, they still should add another edge rusher. Perhaps another camp body or two will come in free agency later, but it's most likely they will wait until the draft to get the depth addition at that position. As we've been mentioning all offseason, the Bengals want to bolster their receiving depth through the draft. There are many options available there, including with players who have the ability to return kickoffs. The kick-return position has been an area of need. The Bengals can't afford to continue throwing Adam Jones out there for kick returns and also expect him to return punts while playing regularly at cornerback. Expect Cincinnati also to use a draft pick on an offensive tackle as that position starts aging. An outside linebacker also could be a possibility in the draft.
@ColeyHarvey aside from in house reups where are the holes that may be filled by FA then by Draft?— Bryan McGuire (@bmactmc) March 20, 2015
@ColeyHarvey: The biggest question mark when it comes to remaining holes for the Bengals is this one. They have a real need for a tight end, particularly one who can be a solid run blocker and occasional receiver in the passing game. Jermaine Gresham has one foot out the door and will need to be replaced. Gresham had attitude concerns that irked some around the team, giving them reason to let the unrestricted free agent walk. But now he has bigger issues than that. According to reports this week, he underwent surgery to fix a herniated disc in his back. It appears that back injury he didn't want to play through in the playoff loss in January may have been a bigger deal than initially thought. The injury has made it difficult for teams to take the gamble on signing him, keeping him on the free-agency block for the foreseeable future. If he's still there after the draft, do the Bengals take him back? That's a big question the powers that be will have to answer for themselves. The Bengals' only other tight end options at this point are to re-sign veteran Alex Smith, look at a couple of the other existing free agents (which aren't many) or draft one. Maxx Williams, Clive Walford and Jeff Heuerman are ESPN's highest-rated tight ends in this draft class. Walford is considered the better blocker of the three.
@ColeyHarvey with little cap remaining what are the realistic TE options at this stage? can we rely on a rookie blocking TE?— Craig Burton (@RealCraigBurton) March 20, 2015
@ColeyHarvey: If you ask the Bengals about this, Samuel, they likely will tell you they already have addressed any perceived problems with the defensive tackle position. The primary problem with the position as coaches see it was that Geno Atkins simply wasn't himself in 2014. Chalk it up to hesitance on his part after returning from his ACL tear, they say. They also believe he'll be back to his old self with more time to get into football shape this offseason. The same could be said for Devon Still, who was re-signed earlier this week. He, too, didn't have much time to get into full football condition last year for various reasons. The Bengals are banking on him improving, too. I'd imagine you also see Domata Peko as part of the "issues" at defensive tackle. Cincinnati doesn't, and it's why he isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
@ColeyHarvey How do we address the DT issues? Draft, trade?— Samuel Vocke (@VockeSamuel4) March 20, 2015
@ColeyHarvey: Heavy question here. I know you also gave on Twitter the example of Margus Hunt being a prolific field-goal blocker at SMU and wondered why the Bengals don't use him more in that regard. While he's been used on special teams, the Bengals also have had special-teams blocks from others the last two seasons. Not to mention they've been far more focused on teaching Hunt defensive fundamentals and making him a better end than refining his field-goal blocking. As for Dontay Moch and James Harrison, both were used as pass-rushers, but some of their ineffectiveness falls on them. Certain principles Moch was being taught weren't getting replicated on the field. Harrison always has been a second-level rusher, who seldom rushes off the line. He just couldn't execute in Cincinnati. I understand the frustration, but it doesn't seem to me that the issue is how players are used. It's more about how the players respond to the coaching and execute, and how often they are put in position to make plays.
@ColeyHarvey Y dont the Bengals play 2 players strengths?like Moch & harrison were specialist @ pass rush.Y make linebackers.rush them!— Cbraines1976 (@cbraines1976) March 20, 2015
@ColeyHarvey: I like this one, Joel. On my bracket, I have Wichita State going the furthest of all the mid-majors (have them losing in the Sweet 16 to Notre Dame). That said, though, my roots are in Georgia. So I'm also pulling hard for Georgia State (sorry, Xavier fans). I mean, how do you not cheer for Ron Hunter, his chair and that poor Achilles?
@ColeyHarvey Which mid-major will go furthest in the tournament, and how far do you think they will go?— Joel418 (@Joel418) March 20, 2015