CINCINNATI — The NFL trade deadline is just a few days away and the Bengals should be making and receiving calls about some of their veteran players.
Whether it's Geno Atkins, A.J. Green or John Ross—Cincinnati should be open to dealing some of their older players to other teams at the deadline.
The Bengals got something for Dunlap, but they held onto the star edge rusher longer than they should've. If the organization would've thought about his role potentially diminishing under this coaching staff, then they could've moved him in March or April and received significantly more in return.
The Bengals didn't maximize Dunlap's value. That can't happen again. Not with this roster and quarterback.
Cincinnati finally has their guy. Joe Burrow is probably the best quarterback they've had since Boomer Esiason. He has all of the skills needed to win on the field and the intangibles you look for off-the-field.
He's a good, maybe even great player, but this roster is flawed. There's no way they can continue to accept pennies on the dollar for their top talent like they did with Dunlap. The clock is already ticking on Burrow's rookie contract. Now is the time to build a contender.
That's why the Bengals need to have a serious conversation about William Jackson III and Carl Lawson.
They're two of the best players are the team. Both guys are set to hit free agency this offseason.
The Bengals need to make a decision about their future in Cincinnati.
Are they going to commit to Lawson long-term? Are they willing to sign him to an extension that will probably be worth anywhere from $16-18 million per season over the next three or four years?
READ MORE: An Open Letter To Carlos Dunlap
If the answer is anything other than "absolutely," then the Bengals should shop Lawson and see what they can get for the 25-year-old before the deadline.
The Bengals are trying to build a sustainable winner for Burrow and company. Rome wasn't built with compensatory selections.
That's exactly what the team would get in return for Lawson if he signed elsewhere this season. And that's assuming they wouldn't make any significant moves in free agency—which they can't be the case if they're going to become a playoff contender in 2021.
Jackson is in a similar position. He's in the final year of his contract. The Bengals need to have a conversation about his long-term future. Are they willing to pay him $16 million per season?
If the answer isn't "yes," then they should absolutely put Jackson on the trade block.
Jackson and Lawson could bring back multiple quality draft picks. They're young, talented players that any contender would like to have on their team.
If they Bengals did move both of them, they would likely receive multiple day two picks (2nd or 3rd round). They can't kick the can down the road and wait to see what compensatory picks they receive in 2022.
They do have the option of using the franchise tag on one of them, but even the tag won't save them from an eventual trade. If they have their doubts about Lawson or Jackson's long-term health, then they should take offers for both players before the deadline.
Those extra draft picks could be used in a variety of ways. Maybe they flip them for a starting right tackle or guard this offseason. Maybe that becomes another young receiver or tight end to pair with Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins.
The possibilities are endless.
The Bengals don't have to trade Lawson or Jackson, but if they don't plan on paying both players big money this offseason, then that's exactly what they should do before Tuesday's deadline.
The trade deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 4 p.m. ET.
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