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Former First-Round Pick Pegged as Best Free Agent Fit With Bengals

This move would make life easier on Joe Burrow

CINCINNATI — The Bengals have plenty of holes on their roster going into the offseason. They need to shore up the offensive and defensive lines. They also need to add more speed on offense. 

"We do need some speed," Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said last month on the Locked on Bengals podcast. "A guy that can stretch the field and push the field with his speed. Enough to where teams are at least concerned about it. They don't have to be a 4.2 [40-yard dash] or anything like that, but just enough to be a concern for a defense that draws attention."

A lot of people have mentioned LSU star Ja'Marr Chase or Alabama speedster Jaylen Waddle as potential options in April's NFL Draft, but Cincinnati could address their lack of speed in free agency.

Seth Galina of Pro Football Focus named a "perfect fit" in free agency for all 32 teams. He didn't pick an offensive lineman or an edge player for the Bengals. Instead, he went with Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller.

"Free agency will tell us a lot about what the Bengals plan to do in the draft, as both receiver and tackle are big-time needs. If they have their mind set at tackle in the draft—Oregon product Penei Sewell is looking like a heavy favorite—they could add a serviceable weapon for Joe Burrow in free agency. In Fuller, the Bengals would get a speed demon who can complement the other players in the receiving corps.

"Given Burrow's accuracy in the intermediate range (1-19 yards downfield) and Tyler Boyd‘s big catch radius already entrenched in Cincinnati, the Bengals don't strictly need a tried-and-true player who can get separation. Instead, they could target Fuller's downfield speed, which would go a long way toward improving a passing attack that ranked 31st in deep passing yards in 2020 (470). Fuller also quietly had the ninth-highest grade at receiver in the league last season, at 86.2."

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Fuller had 53 receptions for 879 yards and eight touchdowns in 11 games last season. He received a six-game suspension for a PED violation in November. He served five of those games, but will miss Week 1 of the 2021 season.

He was on pace to finish with 77 receptions for 1,278 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The Bengals were interested in Fuller and probably would've taken him had he been available when they were on the clock with the 24th overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. Houston took him three picks earlier (21st) and Cincinnati ultimately landed William Jackson III. 

A trio of Fuller, Boyd and Tee Higgins would be dangerous. His skillset is a perfect fit, but does he deserve top of the market money? 

Fuller has never played in all 16 games, although he was on pace to before his suspension last season. 

It depends on price. Teams may shy away from a player like Fuller, who's appeared in 53 of a possible 80 regular season games (66.25%) during his five NFL seasons. 

If that happens, then Cincinnati might be able to sign him to a reasonable contract. Fuller will be 27 next month and should be entering his prime. 

If the Bengals can get him in the $10-$12 million per year range, then the move would make a ton of sense. If he's demanding high-end WR1 money [$17-$20 million per year], then they should look elsewhere.

Check out PFF's entire article here.


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