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Cincinnati Bengals sign La’el Collins: 3 moves the team should still make

Vincent Frank

The Cincinnati Bengals addressed one of their major needs on Sunday, signing former Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle La’el Collins in free agency.

Collins, 28, was a surprise salary cap casualty of the Cowboys earlier in the offseason. He’s been a full-time starter for Dallas over the past four seasons and has continued to play at a Pro Bowl level.

Last season saw Collins yield just two sacks while acting as one of the better run-blocking right tackles in the NFL.

To say that La’el Collins was a need for the Cincinnati Bengals would be an understatement. Despite leading Cincinnati to the Super Bowl, young quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked a league-high 51 times.

He also found himself sacked seven times in Cincinnati’s Super Bowl loss to the Los Angeles Rams. That came after Burrow was sacked nine times in the AFC Divisional Playoffs against the Tennessee Titans.

The signing of Collins comes after Cincinnati added interior linemen Ted Karras and Alex Cappa to the mix. Below, we look at three moves the team should still make in NFL free agency.

Related: Cincinnati Bengals salary cap situation

Cincinnati Bengals sign Kyle Fuller

cincinnati bengals sign kyle fuller
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s tell it like it is. Eli Apple is a terrible cornerback. He’s always been a terrible conerback. That’s why it was a surprise that Cincinnati re-signed him in free agency. Despite yielding a sub 87 passer rating when targeted during the regular season, Apple’s performance in the Super Bowl was just downright atrocious.

Enter into the equation a veteran upgrade in that of Fuller. The 30-year-old struggled last season — giving up a 119.8 passer rating. However, he is a couple years removed from earning Pro Bowl honors with the Chicago Bears. Signing Fuller on the cheap would give the Bengals another option opposite No. 1 corner Chidobe Awuzie.

Related: Cinninnati Bengals standing in our NFL power rankings

Cincinnati Bengals sign Derek Barnett for depth

cincinnati bengals sign derek barnett
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard represent a pretty solid starting defensive end tandem. The two combined for 44 quarterback hits, 24 tackles for loss and 21.5 sacks a season ago. However, Cincinnati could use more depth behind the two after losing fellow pass rusher Larry Ogunjobi in free agency.

That’s where someone like a high-upside player in Barnett could make sense. The Bengals found themselves $14.4 million under the cap before signing La’el Collins. It might have to go bargain shopping. If so, Barnett could be had on a prove-it one-year deal. Despite recording just two sacks a season ago, the 25-year-old defensive end does have some track record of success (38 combined QB hits and 12 sacks in 2019-20). He’d be a nice No. 3 option out on the edge for these Bengals.

Related: Top 200 NFL free agents of 2022

Cincinnati Bengals add Bobby Wagner to the mix

Bobby Wagner
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Historically, Cincinnati has not been big-time spenders in free agency. However, that’s changed to an extent over the past couple offseasons with the likes of Trey Hendrickson and La’el Collins. We expect this to still be the case during the second wave of free agency.

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If so, linebacker is a pretty big need for the Bengals. Cincinnati yielded north of 1,000 yards and a 74% completion rate to tight ends a season ago. For his part, linebacker Germaine Pratt has given up a triple-digit passer rating when targeted in each of his first three NFL seasons. While Wagner is not the player he used to be, the eight-time Pro Bowler still has elite processing skills and can call plays on defense.

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