- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Don't expect the Cincinnati Bengals to sign a wide receiver in free agency. Head coach Marvin Lewis made that clear in defending his young receivers at the NFL owners meetings.
Lewis offered his rebuttal to Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Dougherty, who called for the Bengals to be more active in free agency. Dougherty pointed out how the 49ers traded for Anquan Boldin and the Broncos added Wes Welker this offseason. The Bengals, though, appear set with Mohamed Sanu as the complimentary receiver to A.J. Green.
”Mo Sanu (is) way ahead of where one certain receiver (Chad Johnson) was in his second year playing in the National Football League," Lewis said, via The Cincinnati Enquirer. "I’ll go on record saying that.”
Lewis believes the Bengals should build through the draft and give the young players every opportunity to prove themselves.
"You are not a positive in making your team better when you keep adding old guys," Lewis said. "What did Randy Moss do for those guys (the 49ers) last year? He did nothing. He got in the way of a younger player performing.”
Green led the Bengals last season with 97 catches for 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns. Only one other wide receiver (Andrew Hawkins) had more than 18 receptions last season. A third-round pick last year, Sanu did show signs of establishing himself, catching four touchdowns in three games before suffering a season-ending foot injury in early December. In addition to Sanu and Hawkins, the Bengals are hoping to develop Marvin Jones, who was a fifth-round pick last year.
The Bengals have signed six players this month, and all have been their own free agents. Cincinnati could sign its first free agent from another team this week after team officials met with free-agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, according to the Bengals' official website. The Bengals need a backup to Andy Dalton because Bruce Gradkowski signed with the Steelers. Fitzpatrick was Cincinnati's backup in 2007 and 2008. The Titans also met with Fitzpatrick at the owners meetings, according to the NFL Network.