2019 was going to be a difficult season for the Cincinnati Bengals (2-14) with their new coach in Zac Taylor. This season wasn’t a disastrous season as it was to highlight the main problems of the team. A complete restart at most positions is needed including the replacement of Andy Dalton as the starting quarterback. 2020 will be the last full year of his contract with the Bengals. They cannot wait that long to wait for someone like Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence to become available in the 2021 NFL Draft. Dalton has proven he cannot lead Cincinnati to greatness despite winning the AFC North in 2013 and 2015.
This 2019 College Football season has been a season to remember for LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. In 14 games, Burrow has thrown for 5,208 yards, 55 touchdowns, and only six interceptions on 371 completions (out of 478 attempts). The 2019 Heisman Trophy winner leads the nation in passing touchdowns and pass completions percentage (77.6%). The Bengals are projected to select Burrow with the first overall pick. Selecting a quarterback with the first overall pick is a huge risk more than any other position. So far, the Cleveland Browns with Baker Mayfield (2018 Draft) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Jameis Winston (2015 Draft) have not benefited from the selections. There are scenarios where the Bengals might go with another route, if that is the case it will take much to not go with Burrow.
Possibilities for the Cincinnati Bengals Forgoing Joe Burrow
Chase Young Might Be Too Good to Pass Up
There three main options for the Bengals to do regarding the first overall pick. They can get the best player at the most needed position, which is Joe Burrow at quarterback. Second, they trade away the first pick for a huge package. Lastly, the third option is for them to draft the best available player in the Draft, defensive end Chase Young. ESPN.com has three players graded at 93, Burrow, Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, and Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah.
Young is the highest graded player by most of the major Draft analysis companies with ESPN.com grading him at 96. The Bengals could use more pass rushers as they rank tied for 27th in the league in sacks accounted for with 31. Their top three defensive ends in Carlos Dunlap (9 sacks), Sam Hubbard (8.5 sacks), and Carl Lawson (5 sacks) aren’t necessarily the problem.
This season, Young has accounted for 21 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks for the Ohio State Buckeyes. He is one of the most aggressive and dominant pass rushers in the past few drafts. If the Bengals were to get Young, they would have to move around players but the depth and dominate pass rush would be deep. The Bengals would be missing out on Joe Burrow if they were to take Young of course. They would then potentially be forced to trade late into the first round or with the 33rd pick in the second round to select a quarterback. The last time they picked the best available player and a needed quarterback was in the 2011 NFL Draft. The Bengals selected wide receiver A.J. Green with the fourth overall pick and then Dalton with the 35th overall pick in the second round.
Huge Trade Package for First Overall Pick
Whenever there is a quarterback worthy of being the first overall pick in the Draft, there always teams willing to go all-in for a trade. In the 2016 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams traded two first-round picks (2016 and 2017), two second-round picks, and two third-round picks (2016 and 2017) with the Tennessee Titans so they can draft Jared Goff. In the 2012 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins traded a huge package of three first-round picks and a second-round pick for Robert Griffin III to the Rams. Overall, the Rams were the team that won the trade with their impressive drafting.
Cincinnati will need a huge trade package in order to give away the first overall pick in the Draft. All 31 teams are up for grabs when it comes to trading with them. The Bengals, however, will still probably want a higher tier quarterback in the trade package along with their first round. If the Carolina Panthers are still set on moving on from quarterback Cam Newton, then the Panthers and Bengals could work on a deal. The ideal combination of Newton and A.J. Green might be enticing enough for him to resign with Cincinnati. The Jacksonville Jaguars are another example of a potential trade due to their two-quarterback situation with Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew II. This deal would have to be appealing enough for both teams where Cincinnati could benefit immediately and build a proper team.
Getting a Top-Tier Quarterback via Free Agency
The last scenario for Cincinnati to forgo Burrow is acquiring a top-tier quarterback via free agency. Quarterbacks currently set to be free agents are Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, and Case Keenum. They could also entice Andrew Luck to come out of retirement if he is healthy enough. Getting a veteran quarterback will give the Bengals more room to make when trying to address other key areas. A veteran quarterback will still allow Cincinnati to draft other needed positions like cornerback, an edge rusher, and a receiver. The Bengals do have the 15th highest available salary cap for the 2020 NFL offseason at $13.3 million. Using that to resign Green and get a top-tier quarterback is tough. This scenario is the least likely option for the Bengals to take if they want to go safe in the Draft.
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