This is the first installment of a series where I will put myself in the shoes of every GM in the NFL and make decisions that I think are best for every team. This includes roster management, free agency, and the NFL Draft. I will be going in draft order, so first up are the Cincinnati Bengals.
Their Objective: To acquire young talent and build a culture.
The first thing the Bengals need to do this off-season is find a trade partner for QB Andy Dalton as they are assured to draft Joe Burrow. Dalton may be hard to trade due to his hefty salary. If they do not find a partner they can cut him and save $17.7 million against the cap. The next cap move I would make is to cut Cordy Glen. Glen is a shell of his former self and the Bengals can move on with 2019 first round pick Jonah Williams coming back this season. Cutting Glen would save them 9.25 million next season. The Bengals also need to shop free agent WR A.J. Green. If they do not find a willing trade partner and Green signs elsewhere they will likely end up with a 3rd round compensatory selection next year so it is not the biggest issue.
The Bengals are without much talent so the players they retain will mostly be special teams players or depth pieces. The players I would re-sign for the Bengals are: Jeff Driskel, Nick Vigil, Andrew Billings, Keivarae Russell, Cody Core, Clayton Fejedelm, Christian Ringo, and Kerry Wynn. These are solid depth pieces and core special teams guys. Billings is a decent starter and still young so I would make him the priority.
The Bengals will not look to load up in free agency because that is not where teams are built. They are built through the draft. I would however look for the Bengals to sign a few contributors. I believe they should target Karl Joseph, Zach Line, and Reggie Ragland to fill some holes on the team. Line is a good fullback and Ragland and Joseph were high draft picks that are still young and capable. They should all be available on cheaper deals.
This is where the Bengals will get their identity. And they will start with the first overall selection.
Round 1 Pick 1: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Round 2 Pick 33: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
Round 3 Pick 65: K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State
Round 4 Pick 97: Troy Pride Jr., CB, Notre Dame
Round 5 Pick 129: Jonah Jackson, IOL, Ohio State
Round 6 Pick 160: Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina
Round 7 Pick 192: A.J. Green, CB, Oklahoma State
This mock was done using the TDN Mock Draft Machine. These players may not be available at these spots during the real draft but with the way the board fell I felt this was best case scenario for the Bengals.
An off-season like this would help the Bengals become younger and build a new identity under coach Zac Taylor. It would also set them up to compete in the AFC North in a year or two after some player development.