James Rapien

James Rapien

James Rapien came to talk sports and chew gum, and he's all out of gum.Full Bio


The Bengals' free agency strategy could hurt them in the draft

The Bengals whiffed in free agency and it could cost them in the draft. They didn't pay Andrew Whitworth or Kevin Zeitler. Both players signed multi-year contracts elsewhere.

I've been very critical of them letting both players walk, but that's not the worst part about what the Bengals did in free agency. They've also stuck by Adam Jones. Some fans have defended Jones’ off the field behavior, but there's no denying he's been a distraction.

The Bengals re-signed Dre Kirkpatrick to a 5-year, $52.5 million deal. Kirkpatrick is a good player. He isn't a great player. It's hard to blame the Bengals for retaining him. The move made sense on its’ own. It makes less sense if you look at this years’ NFL Draft.

Most draft analysts believe this is a weak draft for offensive lineman. They also say it’s one of the deepest cornerback classes in years. Draft analyst Joe Goodberry says there will be first round caliber cornerbacks on the board in round three because of how deep this draft is at that position.

The Bengals build through the draft. Does it make sense to keep Jones and re-sign Kirkpatrick when they could’ve found younger, cheaper replacements in this draft? Did it make sense to let Whitworth and Zeitler leave in free agency? They probably won't find replacements for either player in this draft. 

Ultimately, the Bengals have kept their depth at a position that is loaded in the draft. They could find Jones’ replacement in this draft. The same goes for Kirkpatrick. A cornerback room with William Jackson, Darqueze Dennard, Josh Shaw, KeiVarae Russell, Bene Benwikere and a first or second round pick could be one of the more talented cornerback rooms in the NFL. Instead, they have over $20 million tied up in Jones and Kirkpatrick this season. I understand wanting to keep one, but the Bengals have 11 picks in a draft full of corners. They could've moved on from Jones months ago or taken the money they gave to Kirkpatrick and used it elsewhere in free agency. They would've been able to retain Whitworth, Zeitler or a free agent pass rusher.

Now, the post-free agency Bengals have a huge question mark along the offensive line. It’ll be hard to improve it in this draft because of other needs like pass rusher, running back and wide receiver. There aren’t many great offensive line prospects in this draft.

The Bengals got worse at a position that is lacking talent in the draft. Meanwhile, they brought the band back together at a position that is loaded in this draft. We questioned them when they let Whitworth and Zeitler leave. The questions will keep coming if they don’t have a great draft.

Maybe we will get our answers in the draft. The Bengals might be comfortable with their offensive lineman moving forward. They may think Jones and Kirkpatrick are worth every penny they're paying him. That doesn't mean it was the right move. 

The draft is six days away. Bengals fans should hope that by this time next week we have less questions and more answers. 

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Here's who I think the Bengals will draft. 

A.J. McCarron is a genius. 

I think the Bengals should consider this trade. Check out my idea here

Follow me on Twitter.

Dave Lapham joined me to talk Bengals offseason, the draft and more. 

Pro Football Focus thinks the Bengals should take a wide receiver in round one.

One beat writer thinks the Bengals should take a tight end in round one. 

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The Bengals should’ve paid Andrew Whitworth.

You can subscribe to my daily Bengals podcast on iTunes or audioboom

Email me: JamesRapien@espn1530.com

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