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The Cincinnati Bengals used free agency before the 2022 NFL draft to upgrade the offensive line a trio of times and to bring back some key names.
Exiting the draft, there are plenty of ways the team could look on the open market, especially given some of the talent still out there.
The team’s draft class impacts this strategy, of course. Two defensive backs over the first two rounds lessens the need for say, a boundary corner. Potential immediate issues like another starting guard and an interior pass-rusher might make more sense before camps start over the summer.
Regardless, here’s a look at a handful of players the Bengals should have an eye on in the coming weeks.
CB Kevin King
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The Bengals don’t really need another outside corner after grabbing Cam Taylor-Britt to rotate with Eli Apple. They have a lot of guys they like at corner. But also, adding the 6’3” King to take some rotational snaps a year removed from his 70.6 PFF grade isn’t the worst idea, either.
WR Keelan Cole
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The wideout market is middling if you’re not looking for a top-end guy like Odell Beckham or even Julio Jones. But Cole, 29, could be an interesting buy-low option as a versatile backup fourth receiver after the team ignored the spot in the draft.
C JC Tretter
(AP Photo/Terrance Williams)
Tretter was always going to take a long time to find a home. He’s well over 30 years old, yet allowed just one sack over 1,000-plus snaps last year. After not drafting an offensive lineman until the fourth round, the Bengals could start him and shift Ted Karras to left guard.
G Quinton Spain
(AP Photo/Don Wright)
Spain’s play took a steep downward turn at times last year, but it would still make some sense to bring him back and let him at least compete for the starting job. Yes, fourth-rounder Cordell Volson could be a surprise starter if it’s not Jackson Carman, but there’s nothing wrong with even more competition.
DL Akiem Hicks
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Quietly one of the NFL’s best in the trenches for a long time, Hicks still had five sacks last season and would be a superb addition in a rotation. The need is interior pass-rusher and Hicks still has the explosiveness to wreak havoc on his own, let alone on the same front as D.J. Reader and Trey Hendrickson.
Edge Jerry Hughes
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Hughes will be 34 next season, but he’s still an interesting chess piece the staff could deploy on a rotational basis. It’s a depth-based move, but one that brings an experienced, proven bit of pass-rush.
OL Daryl Williams
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We’ve often listed Williams as a fit for the Bengals and that won’t change now. He’s still 29 and only let up four sacks over 1,172 snaps last year. Even as a worst-case scenario, he’d be one heck of a backup for multiple positions.
CB Jackrabbit Jenkins
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Jenkins is 33 now, but he’s coming off a season in which he started 13 games and played pretty well. The Bengals could do much, much worse for primary depth behind the starters if they don’t want to overexpose a rookie.
G Ereck Flowers
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The former top-10 bust has enjoyed a quiet, massive turnaround in recent years. He’s still 28 and can be a solid starter at left guard.
Bonus: Larry Ogunjobi
(AP Photo/Emilee Chinn)
Ogunjobi landed that big-money deal in Chicago, then had it fall apart due to medical reasons. While the Bengals addressed this area in the draft somewhat, it’d be a no-brainer to get Ogunjobi back at an affordable cost. They could use him rotating with B.J. Hill again and for his part, if he has to settle for another prove-it deal, he might as well do it in the system that just helped him have that breakout.
Bonus: TE Rob Gronkowski
(AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
We’re just going to list it as a “just in case” option. Gronk praised Burrow as a guy he’d want to play with if Brady retires. Brady retired. Then he didn’t. Gronk will only go back to the Bucs. But just in case, yes, the Bengals could use a win-now option like this.