Bengals' weapons ranked in bottom-third of the NFL

James Rapien

CINCINNATI — The Bengals have received plenty of praise for the moves they made this offseason. 

They were aggressive in free agency for the first time in decades, committing over $130 million to eight veterans. They also drafted quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick and franchise tagged A.J. Green to ensure the rookie signal-caller has plenty of weapons around him. 

Cincinnati wasn't finished building around the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner. They also selected Tee Higgins in the second-round of the NFL Draft. 

They've received praise for putting together an ultra-talented group of skill players around their young quarterback, but that didn't help Cincinnati in ESPN's latest rankings of the best and worst weapons in the NFL. 

The Bengals' weapons were ranked 23rd in the league and fourth in the AFC North. 

"If we could pencil in 16 games from A.J. Green for first overall pick Joe Burrow, the Bengals would be further up these rankings,' Bill Barnwell wrote. "Of course, Green has played just nine games since the start of 2018 while dealing with groin, toe and ankle injuries. Unless he inks an extension before Wednesday's deadline or signs his franchise tag, it's unclear whether the star wideout will ever play another game for the Bengals. 

"The Bengals still have a group of wideouts with upside in rookie Tee Higgins, slot receiver Tyler Boyd and frustrating former first-rounder John Ross III, who averaged 1.98 yards per route run while simultaneously dropping four of his 56 targets. Tight end isn't very exciting, but the Bengals do have Joe Mixon, who Bill Belichick called "probably [the] best back in the league" in December. I'm not quite on board with that level of praise, but Mixon has been pretty good over the past two seasons despite playing behind one of the league's worst offensive lines. If the line improves in 2020, Mixon could challenge for the rushing title."

Barnwell didn't take into account contract value. He made it clear his rankings are based on 2020 only and that wide receivers matter more than running backs or tight ends in his rankings. 

The Ravens were 20th, the Steelers were 13th and the Browns were second in the ranking.

Green probably won't sign a long-term deal by Wednesday's deadline, but it would be a shock to everyone if he didn't play another game for the Bengals. They want him on the field and he's planning to be in Cincinnati this season. 

If Green stays healthy and is even 80 percent of his old self, then the Bengals should have the second-best weapons in the division behind Cleveland. If he's as dominant as he was at the start of the 2018 season and Ross stays healthy, then Cincinnati could have one of the best skill groups in the NFL. 

Not many top picks walk into Green, Mixon, Boyd, Ross, Higgins and Auden Tate. 

It's fair to doubt The Bengals. Heck, Green has missed 29 of his last 64 games. Ross and Green have only appeared in nine games together. 

There are a lot of 'ifs' with this Bengals team, but 'if' their skill players stay healthy, they should be much better than 23rd in the NFL this season. 

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