The Cincinnati Bengals lost in the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs for the fourth straight season, and are looking to improve their roster to finally get over the hump. However, the wrong signing could push them in the opposite direction. Here are the free agents the Bengals need to avoid this offseason:
DE Greg Hardy
Cincinnati has a history of bringing in players with troubled pasts, but taking a flyer on Hardy after his domestic violence charges were settled in a civil suit to invest even a fraction of Hardy’s $13 million franchise tag value from 2014 would come with intense scrutiny and major risk. The Bengals do need help on the defensive line, but Cincinnati will be better off finding 80-85% of his talent with 90% less baggage on the free agent market.
TE Julius Thomas
Thomas has emerged as a star during the past two seasons with the Denver Broncos, but the team is content to let him hit the open market. Cincinnati is in the market for a tight end after letting Jermaine Gresham go, and another target would immensely help quarterback Andy Dalton.
However, Thomas will undoubtedly command top dollar on the open market, and Cincinnati shouldn’t invest a good portion of their salary cap in a player who has to be taken off the field because he can’t block. The Bengals can’t afford to overpay anybody, and that’s what they’d have to do to land Thomas.
DE/LB Brian Orakpo
Orakpo is one of the top free agent pass rushers after Hardy, but he's someone else Cincinnati needs to avoid. He is a three-time Pro Bowler, which will drive the price tag up even though he's torn a pectoral muscle three times in the past four seasons. The Bengals need someone they can rely on, and Orakpo's injury history proves he won't be that.
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