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Evaluating the Bengals Offseason Through Steelers' Eyes

Cincinnati's off season has been filled with a lot more talk than action so far. The front office was involved with trade talks with the Jets (Roberstson) and the Lions (Rogers), but failed to close either deal. Ocho Cinco has made plenty of news running his mouth about wanting out of Cincy. He's even gone as far as stating a desire to play for the Patriots, Dolphins, and Panthers. At one point he even hinted that he would sit out the season if he wasn't traded. Chad has since backed off all the crazy talk but still won't say publicly that he wants to return to Cincy. It's even become enough of a story that SBN blog Cincy Jungle has a link on the side of its main page dedicated solely to stories about Johnson's `trade me campaign.'

Never at a loss for words but not big on being a team player either.

Players Retained
Antonio Chatman WR (signed to 2 year deal)
Stacy Andrews G/T  (Franchised - Check out what that means for Cincy)

Players Acquired
Antwan Odom DE (5 years, $29.5 million with $11.5 guaranteed) - Odom made the most of his first full season as a starter, totaling eight sacks and 21 tackles. It'll be interesting how effective he is when he isn't surrounded by outstanding defensive linemen. The DL at Tennessee included two Pro Bowlers and combined for 32 sacks. I think it's safe to say he won't be surrounded by the same talent in Cincy and might see a couple more double teams.

Players Lost
Justin Smith - Smith has missed just one game during his 7 year career and has started over 100 straight games. He had a down year in '07 with just two sacks after averaging almost 7 during his first 6 seasons.
Madieu Williams- Been the Bengals' starting FS for most of his career (4 seasons) when he wasn't injured. He's averaged over 70 tackles and two interceptions a season despite missing 15 games over that span.

Just looking at their off season at a glance it's tough to see where they've gotten better. Justin Smith was replaced by Antwan Odom. Odom's a couple of years younger but really has had just one good season in his career and he was surrounded by great defensive linemen in Tennessee. Williams will likely be replaced by second year safety, Marvin White (4th round pick) unless another guy is signed or the Bengals use an early draft pick on a safety. Losing two of the better players from a defense that finished 27th in yards allowed and 24th in points allowed doesn't bode well for the Bengals in 2008, but they still have several months of free agency and a draft to shore up a shaky unit. They do have the ninth overall selection so there should be several intriguing defensive players from which to choose from.

Normally offensive production isn't a problem for the Bungles but in 2007, especially after Rudi Johnson went down, the offense as a whole slowed down significantly. The running game ended up finishing just 24th in the league. Though the passing game still held up its end for the most part finishing 7th, the Bengals' offense in past years typically is most dynamic and effective when the running game is complimentary. Rudi's injury riddled 2007 even has some fans wondering if he'll be on the roster in 2008 or if he'll be a cap casualty. This could also be the final season that Palmer, CJ, and TJ are all together because Douchemanzadeh is a free agent after 2008. No matter how the off season winds up for Cincy, 2008 should be another wild ride.

Who did I miss, and who do you think the Bengals should target in April? Do they have any chance to challenge for the AFC North crown?