Analyst Critical of Bengals' Offseason Moves, Questions Value of Top Free Agent Additions

It's fair to question the moves Cincinnati made this offseason.

CINCINNATI — The Bengals have made plenty of additions to their roster over the past few months, but how much better are they entering the 2021 season? 

ESPN NFL analyst Bill Barnwell questions the two biggest transactions they made this offseason in his latest column. Cincinnati was 24th in his ranking of best and worst offseasons for all 32 teams.

"The decision to move on from Carl Lawson for Trey Hendrickson seems curious, given that Hendrickson had only one significant season with the Saints. Even that 2020 campaign has red flags attached, suggesting Hendrickson won't be able to keep up his newfound sack totals in Cincinnati," Barnwell wrote. "Choosing Hendrickson over Lawson and (Ja'Marr) Chase over (Penei) Sewell are the two decisions the Bengals will end up being judged for across the next few years. They can get out of the Hendrickson deal after one year and $20 million, but doing so would leave them in need of another replacement on the edge."

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The Bengals certainly believe Hendrickson can be an upgrade from Lawson, but Barnwell isn't alone in wondering if the pass rush actually improved with the move. 

Plenty of people believe it was a slight downgrade, even though Hendrickson did have 13.5 sacks last season. If he posts similar numbers this season, then that criticism will disappear. 

There will be plenty of people that compare Penei Sewell to Ja'Marr Chase and vice versa over the next few years. Both guys have a chance to become great NFL players. 

The Bengals love Chase. They love what he brings to the table and Barnwell believes the star receiver is going to make life much easier on Burrow.

"Some NFL draft analysts felt like the Bengals should have opted for Oregon tackle Penei Sewell to try to protect Burrow as he returns from a serious knee injury—and I wouldn't have had any issue with the move—but Chase also helps protect Burrow," Barnwell wrote. "Giving him a receiver he trusts on 50/50 balls will help the former first overall pick get the ball out more quickly. Expect Burrow to have the option to throw hot to Chase throughout the season."

Cincinnati was ranked ahead of eight teams, including Pittsburgh, Detroit, Carolina and Las Vegas.

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