The calendar slowly turning to June shouldn’t fool anyone — plenty of Cincinnati Bengals news and notes keep going public and at a pretty good pace.
Over the last week or so, news about veteran leadership, ideas about cap space and one impressive rookie quarterback taking a stand made major headlines.
Let’s take a look at some recent news and provide commentary on those notes.
Josh Bynes takes command
A recent news item made it clear free-agent linebacker Josh Bynes is already doing everything he can to lead the young guys in the room.
And that’s perfection.
Bynes wasn’t the biggest free-agent add in the world. And he was never going to get on the field a ton — he played 40 percent of his defense’s snaps last year and hadn’t played more than that in three of his last four seasons.
But the Bynes add goes far beyond productivity. This is about mentoring a linebacker room with Germaine Pratt, three draftees and lots of rookies overall.
NFL odds dislike Bengals
So the Bengals are only favored in one game on the 2020 schedule right now.
But not really. Oddsmakers have every right to distrust the Bengals right now. From their perspective, a brutal first year for a new coaching staff resulted in a two-win season and now the team will try to break in a rookie passer behind a shaky line while hoping injury risks like A.J. Green can actually play.
There’s plenty of reason for optimism though, as anyone who reads us knows. But odds disliking the Bengals isn’t anything new anyway.
WJ3 is one of NFL’s best
William Jackson was identified as one of the NFL’s best man corners.
We’ve long known man coverage is one of WJ3’s strengths but it’s nice to see a quiet portion of the NFL offseason honor him for the trait.
Hopefully, we’ll see more of WJ3 in that sort of stance next year anyway, as the Bengals did it on just 33 percent of their snaps last year. More of it would help the unit improve — and increase the chances WJ3 can earn himself a nice second contract on a re-up with the Bengals instead of going to free agency.
Cap space outlook
One cap space projection looking ahead to 2021 has the Bengals with about $75 million in free space.
A great number, obviously. But it’s time for a disclaimer: That won’t stick. The Bengals want to get an extension done with Joe Mixon and could always wrap up A.J. Green on a new deal too.
The good news? This sort of projection paints a clear picture that the Bengals can still be pretty active in next offseason’s free agency too while they benefit from building the roster around a rookie quartebrakc contract.
Burrow speaks on George Floyd protests
Joe Burrow went public with comments about the George Floyd protests this week.
There aren’t many words to describe this. Amazing would be one. Incredible is another. We know Burrow’s a great person. The kid spent part of his Heisman Trophy speech advocating for the poor and impoverished from his hometown, spurring life-changing donations. He’s talked in the past about how his experience with all sorts of different people is what helped him be so successful everywhere from Columbus to Louisiana and otherwise.
But this? Burrow took a stand in a way many won’t. He used his platform — which is simply as an incoming rookie quarterback yet to prove himself — and stood tall. He made a lot of people proud and said something incredibly important.
Burrow earned a lot of respect from teammates and well beyond today. Not that it’s what he was going for — he believes in what he’s saying. And few things are more important.
Projected Bengals starting defense for 2020