To keep or not to keep? That’s the question for the Cincinnati Bengals’ brass as they begin making off-season decisions about which players they keep on the team and which ones will be suiting up for other squads come next fall. It’s a time that’s both exciting and agonizing. You know the questions: Who do we lose? Can we get that All-Pro receiver to go alongside AJ Green? I hope we get rid of so-and-so. And on, and on, and on.
We have a list of the Cincinnati Bengals’ so-and-sos who are unrestricted free agents in 2017. This is the first in a series of posts about them, and whether we think they’ll have tiger stripes on their helmets on opening weekend. Let’s get to it.
1. Andrew Whitworth (left tackle) – Whitworth is perhaps the top priority for the Cincinnati Bengals to keep, as they saw improvement in their offensive line’s performance once they made some changes near the end of the season. Whitworth wasn’t one of those changes. He’s a proven football player who provides consistency for a group that desperately needs it. Yes, he’s 35 years old, but he won’t be pushed out of Cincinnati. In fact, at 6-7, 325 pounds, no one’s likely to push him anywhere. Re-sign (yep or nope): Yep
2. Domata Peko (defensive tackle) – This is a tough one. Not because of Peko’s stats, but the fact that he’s played his entire 11-year career in Cincinnati and has meant a lot to the team. He only had 37 tackles in 2016 as Cincinnati ranked 21st in the NFL in rushing defense. His most recent contract was 2 years, $9 million, and sadly, those aren’t numbers that are worth $4.5 million, or another contract. Re-sign (yep or nope): Nope
3. Brandon LaFell (wide receiver) – We had high hopes for LaFell this year as a compliment to AJ Green. He was reasonably productive (64 catches for 862 yards), but inconsistent (5 games with 80+ yards receiving, 7 games with 3 catches or less). We think he still has some gas left in the tank at age 30, at least for another year in Cincinnati. But after that, who knows? Re-sign (yep or nope): Yep