The Bengals need help on offense. They usually address their needs in the draft. Last season they wanted to select a wide receiver with speed, but were unable to do so. Maybe they'll dive into free agency, instead of waiting on the draft to address that issue this season.
The Bengals could re-sign Brandon LaFell, who signed a one-year deal last season. He had one of the best seasons of his career finishing with 64 receptions for 862 yards and six touchdowns. Should the Bengals re-sign him? Well, that depends. Is he willing to take a one-year or two-year deal? Will he want a pay increase?
LaFell will likely want more money than the $2.5 million he made last season. He's also 30-years-old and should want a multi-year contract. He's a good player, but his future may not be in Cincinnati. Here are a few other options the Bengals could consider if they want to sign a wide receiver in free agency.
Kenny Stills is only 24-years-old and is exactly what the Bengals were missing last season. He ran a 4.38 40-yard dash in the 2013 NFL combine. Since then he's become one of the better deep threats in the NFL. He average 17.3 yards-per-catch in 2016 and scored nine touchdowns. Cincinnati was unable to replace Marvin Jones last season after he left for Detroit.
The numbers between Stills and Jones are eerily similar. Jones has 189 receptions for 2,659 yards and 19 touchdowns in four seasons (he missed all of 2014 with an injury). Stills has 164 receptions for 2,738 yards and 20 touchdowns in his first four seasons.
If the Bengals were willing to pay Jones $8 million per year, maybe they'd be open to signing Stills to a similar deal.
DeSean Jackson is another wide receiver who could be on the Bengals' radar this offseason. Marvin Lewis has ties to Jackson. It would appear that signing him would make sense from a football perspective. Jackson is 30-years-old, but had over 1,000 receiving yards and averaged nearly 18 yards-per-catch in 2016.
If he's willing to be A.J. Green's sidekick, he would fit in well with the Bengals. I'm assuming he'll be looking for a three-year contract in the $20-$24 million range.
The Bengals have to get better on both sides of the ball. Wide receiver is just one of the many positions they'll look to improve at this offseason. If they think Stills or Jackson could improve their offense, then they should seriously consider going after them in free agency.
It seems more likely that they'll try to re-sign LaFell. I'll be fine with that as long as they can add an outside playmaker in the draft. I like most of the Bengals wide receivers, but they need another guy who can scare defenses when Green isn't in the game. LaFell didn't do that last season. Cody Core didn't do that last season. I might've been Tyler Boyd's biggest fan, but he didn't do that last season.
The Bengals are a few pieces away from making their offense great again. Hopefully they feel the same way and make the necessary moves this offseason.
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