On the Clock: Cincinnati Bengals

Scouts Inc. puts the Bengals on the clock, breaking down their offseason moves and looking at what questions still need answering.

Originally Published: March 29, 2007
By Jeremy Green | Scouts Inc.

Through April 20, "SportsCenter" will put every NFL team "On The Clock." Scouts Inc. breaks down each team and looks at what questions still need answering.

Scouts: Free-agent tracker
Bengals
For a complete list of all of the Bengals' free agents and all their offseason signings, check out Scouts Inc.'s free-agent tracker.
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The Cincinnati Bengals had high expectations heading into the 2006 season, but suffered through a difficult campaign that included a disturbing number of off-the-field incidents. One of the biggest priorities this offseason should have been to clean up the locker room and bring in more leaders, but that has not happened so far. The Bengals have had a miserable offseason, including the loss of three excellent leaders.

The Bengals are no better today then when they finished last season. They have the same troubled characters in the locker room and less talent on the field. However, the team still should have one of the better offenses in the NFL. With quarterback Carson Palmer, running back Rudi Johnson and wide receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Cincinnati has a chance to win every Sunday.

Key additions

The Bengals have not done anything of significance this offseason. The only move that will have any impact on the roster is the addition of former Arizona center Alex Stepanovich. He was basically a street free agent. The team did put the franchise tag on defensive end Justin Smith, but this was a questionable move because Smith is now set to eat up $8.6 million in salary -- quite a price for a defensive end who has never registered double-digit sacks in a season.

The team signed defensive end Robert Geathers, who had 10½ sacks last season, to a long-term deal, and re-signed tight end Reggie Kelly, one of the better blockers in the NFL at his position. Finally, the Bengals brought back No. 3 running back Kenny Watson, who catches the ball well out of the backfield and is a solid special teams player.

Mock draft: Bengals
The Pick (No. 18 overall):
OLB Lawrence Timmons, Florida State
Insider

Ginn
Todd McShay: Timmons didn't help his draft stock at the combine, where he was 2 inches shorter and two-tenths of a second slower in the 40 than expected. Still, Timmons is an outstanding athlete who flashed playmaking ability in his one season as a full-time starter at FSU.
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Key losses

The Bengals have lost some talented players with leadership skills this offseason. Left guard Eric Steinbach (Cleveland) is one of the best in the NFL at his position and can play multiple positions. He was one of the players arrested before the 2006 season, but he was also one of the best leaders on the team.

Linebacker Brian Simmons was cut. While he had lost a step, Simmons was still the best linebacker on the team. The Bengals also lost safety Kevin Kaesviharn (New Orleans), who had six interceptions last season and was responsible for getting everyone in the front seven lined up.

The departure of reserve defensive tackle Shaun Smith (Cleveland) and No. 4 receiver Kelley Washington (New England) has weakened depth at both those positions. In addition, cornerback Tory James (not expected to be re-signed), backup tight end Tony Stewart (Oakland) and linebacker Marcus Wilkins (Atlanta), one of Cincinnati's best special teams players last season, also will be missed.

Remaining questions

The biggest question for this team once again will be interior run defense. The Bengals still need a big defensive tackle to plug the middle. They have a lot of bodies at linebacker but no true star at the position. Johnathan Joseph played well late last season, but this team does not have much depth at corner. Safeties Dexter Jackson and Madieu Williams are inconsistent in run support, which hurts the run defense.

The team will miss Steinbach, but the depth on the offensive line is solid. Despite all the problems, this team still has a chance to win, thanks to the explosive weapons on offense.