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Bengals offseason wrap-up

5/22/2014

With free agency and the NFL draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the Cincinnati Bengals' offseason moves.

Best move: You will notice a theme in this wrap-up: The Bengals didn't make very many "great" moves. In fact, arguably their best offseason move had nothing to do with the roster. From a player standpoint, the best addition was selecting the best player available with their first-round draft pick. The Bengals would have been foolish to pick any player other than Darqueze Dennard at No. 24. Dennard's addition addressed a key need, and he could be a good replacement for an aging cornerback like Terence Newman.

Riskiest move: Sticking with the draft, the riskiest move came in Round 2 when they selected running back Jeremy Hill, a big, physical back with some off-field baggage. In July 2013, Hill pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge after he admitted to punching a man in the head outside a bar the previous April. That happened while he was already on probation following his January 2012 guilty plea to a misdemeanor stemming from his sexual relationship with a then-14-year-old girl at his high school. The Bengals, who seemed content with their loaded backfield before the draft, weren't deterred by Hill's past. Their research into him has them convinced he has matured.

Most surprising move: In early March, the Bengals offered their three restricted free agents -- receiver Andrew Hawkins, linebacker Vincent Rey and receiver Dane Sanzenbacher -- low-round tenders. Hawkins, a speedy playmaker the Bengals liked and had plans for next season, should have been given a tender one tier higher. It would have been easier to keep him from potential suitors had a second-round tender been offered. Yes, he would have earned more under that tender, but only about $700,000 more. Instead, because of the Bengals' low offer, the Browns pounced and made Hawkins an offer too lucrative for Cincinnati to match.

Can't forget Hue: If we include coaches' transactions as part of this offseason wrap-up, then the Bengals' promotion of Hue Jackson from running backs coach to offensive coordinator deserves to be recognized as Cincinnati's best offseason move. We wrote about it this week. The major part of Cincinnati's game that was lacking last season was its rushing offense. Jackson's new offense should make the running game come alive and relieve some of the pressure quarterback Andy Dalton has endured his first three seasons.