Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 4/14/12
For a team that has been considered rather conservative, the Bengals have been aggressive in one unlikely area over the past 19 months - making trades. With linebacker Keith Rivers being shipped to the Giants for a fifth-round pick in this year's draft, the Bengals have made six trades since September of 2010. In the process, they have got one starter, a possible future starter and five draft picks. The mother of all trades ended up being the one that sent disgruntled quarterback Carson Palmer to the Raiders for a first-round pick this year and a second-rounder next year. Many criticized club president Mike Brown for not trading Palmer immediately when he made his trade me or I will retire declaration but Brown held on until he could get the maximum value. That pick could end up being an offensive guard, cornerback or wide receiver to pair with A.J. Green. The other trade that ended up coming out markedly in the Bengals favor was when they acquired safety Reggie Nelson from the Jaguars for cornerback David Jones and this year's seventh-round pick. Nelson has emerged as a starter who led the team in interceptions last year while Jones is no longer in the league. With the release of Chris Crocker, the Bengals could have their future starter in Taylor Mays, who they got from San Francisco last August for a seventh-round pick in 2013. Mays has great athleticism, but ball and coverage skills are still a major question. In the cases of Rivers and Chad Ochocinco, the Bengals elected to get at least something instead of just outright releasing them. Most league observers are still amazed that the Bengals received two draft picks - a fifth- and sixth-rounder - for Ochocinco, who wasn't a factor in the Patriots offense last year, and can be considered a steal. With the play of Thomas Howard last season, it was difficult to see where Rivers fit in. Head coach Marvin Lewis has often called Howard the most athletic linebacker he has coached and Howard ended up leading the team in tackles last season. Brandon Johnson, who remains an unrestricted free agent, has also played well at the weak-side spot and Lewis mentioned there is a chance Johnson could be re-signed. The other reason for the Rivers trade was some bad feelings from both sides over how he elected to have season-ending wrist surgery last year. Rivers elected to have it done in July right before the lockout ended while the team wanted him to have it done before the lockout began. Since being the ninth overall pick in 2008, Rivers played in only 36 of a possible 66 games. Rivers finished second on the team in tackles in 2009 and '10, but is remembered more for being on the receiving end of a Hines Ward hit that broke Rivers' jaw during his rookie season. Besides missing the final nine games of 2008, Rivers missed three games in 2009 due to a calf injury and battled foot issues (plantar fasciitis) in 2010 that caused him to miss a game. NOTES, QUOTESNewman to be reunited with Zimmer --The signing of cornerback Terence Newman means he is reunited with defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who was in Dallas during Newman's first four seasons. "Terence is a guy who has played at an extremely high level who still has athleticism and speed," coach Marvin Lewis said. "We're anxious to work with him and coach him on technique and play in the style that we would like him to play. As he would say he had his best years when he was under Mike's coaching." In 2003, the Bengals nearly drafted Newman but took Carson Palmer with the top overall pick. Newman went fifth to Dallas but Lewis said that if the Bengals had opted for Newman over Palmer, they would have traded out of the top spot to get him. --With the addition of Jacob Bell, the Bengals now have two guards who each have 99 starts or more. Bell, who visited the Bengals early in free agency, grew up in Cleveland but played at Miami University. "I still have a lot of friends in the area," Bell said. "Cincinnati was the best fit. They have a lot of positives and a lot of things about coming here felt right." Bell spent the past four seasons in St. Louis. He missed the final three games of last season with a sprained right MCL but said that he is 100 percent. Lewis also has not ruled out re-signing Bobbie Williams, who has been with the team for eight seasons and was a mainstay at right guard. --The team's offseason conditioning program begins on Monday and is three weeks later than what it was under the old collective bargaining agreement. When it comes to the new rules, Lewis admitted that he is not a fan of them because it hurts younger players and those on the bottom of the roster from making improvements and getting better. Normally at this time of year players could come in and get instruction from coaches. --With the trade of Rivers, the only first-round pick still on the team from 2003-08 is cornerback Leon Hall, who continues to rehab from an Achilles injury. STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL Before the draft, the Bengals are still honing their roster in spots. They released Chris Crocker and Rico Murray while adding Terence Newman. Of the remaining unsigned free agents, there still is the possibility of re-signing tight end Donald Lee, offensive guard Bobbie Williams, linebacker Brandon Johnson and possibly wide receiver Jerome Simpson. TEAM NEEDS1. Guard: The Bengals have never drafted a guard in the first round but with Bobbie Williams and Nate Livings being free agents (Livings signed with Dallas), they need to find someone who they can plug in there for the next five years and not worry about. It would be a similar situation to tackle, where they are set with Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith. 2. Wide receiver: A.J. Green can stretch the field and provide the big plays, but now the task is finding someone to pair with him. They also need to find a dependable option on short and medium routes. 3. Defensive line: With the losses of Jonathan Fanene (New England) and Frostee Rucker (New England), the Bengals are lacking depth on a line that had the deepest rotation in the league. The Bengals have added Jamaal Anderson and Derrick Harvey, but could continue to build depth through the draft. MEDICAL WATCH: No updates. FRANCHISE PLAYER: PK Mike Nugent (tendered at 2.654 million). TRANSITION PLAYER: None. UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS --RB Cedric Benson has three straight 1,000-yard seasons with the Bengals but offensive coordinator Jay Gruden wants to go more with a running back by committee approach which Benson has balked at. Expect both sides to have a mutual parting of the ways. --CB Kelly Jennings was mainly the corner in nickel situations once Leon Hall went down due to injury. Considering the lack of depth in the secondary, they would like to re-sign him. --LB Brandon Johnson has been a key backup at weak-side linebacker and has been one of the top players on special teams. He is looking for a multi-year deal after three straight seasons on one-year contracts. --TE Bo Scaife spent all of last season on injured reserve after injuring his neck. He is not expected to be back. --WR Jerome Simpson has plenty of athletic potential and set career highs in catches (50), yards (725) and touchdowns (four), but he is also facing a four-game suspension stemming from pleading guilty to marijuana possession. Could be re-signed in May depending on the team's activity in free agency. --OG Bobbie Williams went into last season with the team's longest streak of consecutive games but ended up serving four games for a violation of the league's policy on performance enhancing substances then fractured his ankle late in the season and missed the last three games. Going into his 13th year despite being entrenched at right guard, he is not a priority to re-sign. --S Gibril Wilson saw a mix of defensive and special teams snaps after missing 2010 due to a knee injury. Could be back on a one-year deal. RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS --LS Clark Harris (tendered at 1.26M with seventh-round pick as compensation) has made 395 straight clean snaps. EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS --S Jeromy Miles (tendered at 540,000) was used almost exclusively on special teams and led the team in tackles with 15. PLAYERS RE-SIGNED --OT Anthony Collins: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown. --DT Nick Hayden: Potential ERFA; 615,0001 yr. --CB Adam Jones: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown. --LB Manny Lawson: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown. --TE Donald Lee: UFA; terms unknown. --S Reggie Nelson: UFA; 18M4 yrs. --RB Cedric Peerman: Potential ERFA; 615,0001 yr, terms unknown. --FB Chris Pressley: Potential RFA; 2.1M2 yrs. --LB Vincent Rey: Potential ERFA; 450,0001 yr. --OT Dennis Roland: UFA; terms unknown. --DT Pat Sims: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown. --LB Dan Skuta: RFA tendered at 1.26M with no compensation); 1.26M1 yr. PLAYERS ACQUIRED --CB Jason Allen: UFA Texans; 8.2M2 yrs. --DE Jamaal Anderson: UFA Colts; 2 yrs, terms unknown. --OG Jacob Bell: UFA Rams; 1 yr, terms unknown. --RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis: UFA Patriots; 9M3 yrs. --DE Derrick Harvey: UFA Broncos; 1 yr, terms unknown. --CB Terence Newman: FA Cowboys; terms unknown. --OG Travelle Wharton: FA Panthers; 10M3 yrs, 3.2M guaranteed. PLAYERS LOST --WR Andre Caldwell: UFA Broncos; 1.8M2 yrs. --S Chris Crocker (released). --DE Jonathan Fanene: UFA Patriots; 12M3 yrs, 3.85M guaranteed. --OG Nate Livings: UFA Cowboys; 19M5 yrs, 6.2M guaranteed. --OG Mike McGlynn: UFA Colts; terms unknown. --CB Rico Murray (released). --LB Keith Rivers (traded Giants). --DE Frostee Rucker: UFA Browns; 21M5 yrs, 8M guaranteed.
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