The 2019 Bengals will almost certainly be a big change from what we’ve seen in year’s past.
Between the hiring of Zac Taylor, releasing defensive stalwart Vontaze Burfict and revamping the offensive line, we’re finally getting the breath of fresh air that fans have been longing for.
But there are still some big questions facing the franchise heading into the summer. NFL.com has released their 100 questions for the entire NFL, and three involve the Bengals, which I’ll attempt to answer.
“How will Zac Taylor change the Bengals after the team’s 16 seasons with Marvin Lewis?”
More innovation on offense. More willingness to let young players play vs. handing jobs to veterans and not allowing competition for their starting spots (we’ve already seen this with Jonah Williams getting the nod at left tackle and pushing Cordy Glenn to left guard). More creativity to get John Ross involved (which John did a fantastic job on).
“Is Andy Dalton’s successor in the building in Ryan Finley?”
No. Just, no. There will be a solid group of quarterbacks in next year’s NFL Draft. If Andy Dalton struggles this year, the Bengal probably have a record that puts them in position to draft someone like Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert or Jake Fromm.
But if Dalton does well in his first year under Zac Taylor, expect a long-term extension to get done next offseason.
“And how much will the Bengals pay A.J. Green?”
Since Green turns 31 in July, he won’t be the highest-paid receiver (Odell Beckham Jr.), but he should get a multi-year contract paying him around $15-16 million annually, the same range that guys like DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones and Mike Evans are getting. I’d be surprised if it’s anything less.
I also wouldn’t rule out the franchise tag next year if a long-term deal doesn’t come. Green won’t like it, but I don’t think he’s the kind of guy that would threaten a holdout into the regular season either.
In the end, I would be shocked if Dalton and Green aren’t on the roster when the 2020 season kicks off.