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Bengals' last midseason trade acquisition came in disco era

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals operate in a way unique to many other teams. They rarely sign free agents and even more rarely make trades, with five years passing between a Bengals trade involving players.

This offseason, the Bengals acquired defensive end Chris Smith for a conditional draft pick -- the first non-draft-related trade they had made since sending linebacker Keith Rivers to the Giants for a 2012 fifth-round pick (which they later used to select safety George Iloka).

And midseason trades? Most of the time, forget about it.

There have been some exceptions. The Bengals shipped off disgruntled quarterback Carson Palmer to the Raiders at the trade deadline in 2011 after Palmer threatened to retire rather than return to Cincinnati. The picks the Bengals got back turned into Dre Kirkpatrick and Giovani Bernard.

The Bengals actually made a lot of moves in 2011, sending Chad Johnson to the Patriots for draft picks (one of which turned into Marvin Jones Jr.), getting Taylor Mays from the 49ers for a draft pick and sending defensive tackle Clinton McDonald to the Seahawks for Kelly Jennings.

Perhaps the Bengals felt they didn't need to make trades between their 2012 move and this past offseason's acquisition. The Bengals made the playoffs every season from 2011-2015.

There have been those exceptions, but when it comes to adding a player midseason, the Bengals almost never budge. The last time they made a midseason trade was Nov. 1, 1972. The Bengals picked up wide receiver Charlie Joiner and linebacker Ron Pritchard from the Houston Oilers in exchange for running backs Paul Robinson and Fred Willis.

Joiner was with Cincinnati from 1972-75. He played in six games with the Bengals in 1972, catching eight passes for 133 yards. He was eventually traded to the Chargers, where he spent the next 11 seasons and made three Pro Bowls.

Pritchard stayed in Cincinnati from 1972-77 and finished his career there, starting 46 games for the Bengals, including three during the season he was traded. Willis stayed in Houston until he finished his career in 1976 after starting 37 games there. Robinson only lasted one more season but played in 19 games total for Houston.

The Bengals have a struggling offensive line and two little-used players: quarterback AJ McCarron and running back Jeremy Hill. McCarron hasn't taken a snap this season while backing up Andy Dalton, and Hill, who is scheduled to be a free agent at season's end, has lost playing time to rookie Joe Mixon.

So, could the Bengals potentially make a move prior to Tuesday's trade deadline?

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis downplayed the idea, saying it would be difficult to acquire an offensive lineman who could help them right away.

“You would have to tell me who’s available to trade that’s going to upgrade your football team at that spot" Lewis said. "I don’t know of anybody standing with somebody, an extra guy standing on the sideline like that, that's going to come in and upgrade your football team -- a team who is willing to sacrifice their own quarterback for that situation. That's the thing I think probably the thing that people don't understand as much -- generally guys that are traded are (players) feel like are disgruntled or are underachieving in some way and a new address may be good. ...

"And they're also clearing off cap or opportunity for next year, or whatever it may be to provide for a young player. There is a lot involved in doing those things. But yet, (some trades) surprise you. But those aren’t my worries. My worries are the 53 or 63 guys we’ve got in this building.”