The Cincinnati Bengals are quickly headed for another early first-round draft pick, falling to 1-5-1 on Sunday thanks to a close defeat at the hands of the rival Cleveland Browns. That means they're also headed for another chance to be sellers ahead of the NFL trade deadline. And while Cincy has traditionally refused to budge when it comes to dealing aging or disgruntled players, this year's squad contains a handful of big-name veterans who are either overtly or quietly ready to move on.
CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora, in fact, reported Sunday that longtime defensive standouts Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins, who have a combined 10 Pro Bowl appearances, have already "made it clear they want to be dealt." Star wide receiver A.J. Green and former first-round cornerback William Jackson III, meanwhile, would also "be very open to a change of scenery."
Will the Bengals actually move the quartet of starters? Only time will tell. In the meantime, here's a look at the best fits for each of the players who want out:
It's still hard to think Cincy could get anything more than a lower mid-rounder for Green, who'll be a free agent after the season and missed a whopping 29 games from 2016-2019. But he's clearly still got something in the tank (15 catches, 178 yards, seven first downs in last two weeks) and at the very least offers enviable size and experience on the outside.
San Francisco has been eyeing proven WR help for years, exploring Odell Beckham Jr. before dealing for Emmanuel Sanders in 2019, and its current group is perpetually banged up. Green Bay could really use an additional vet opposite Davante Adams, even with Allen Lazard set to return later. New England probably needs to get younger but has never shied away from big-name gambles. And the Raiders are in the thick of the playoff hunt but have battled their own injuries at the position.
Dunlap has been the most vocal of the Bengals seeking a new home, but he might not garner much more than Green on the trade market because of his age (31), hefty cap hit ($13.5 million in 2021) and lack of production this year. Then again, pass rushers are always a hot commodity, and they tend to age better than other positions. Buffalo, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Seattle can all justify taking on Dunlap's deal if it means adding a quasi-starter off the edge; all four teams are -- or should be -- looking for a No. 2/3 end for the home stretch. If you had to narrow the list, Seattle seems like exactly the place he could thrive in a rotation.
Like Dunlap, Atkins has a rock-solid resume, but he's grown to be extremely expensive (due $30.85M from 2021-2022). Any acquiring team could conceivably cut him after 2020 and save most of that money, though, and he's still a more-than-serviceable force on the interior. A playoff contender like Buffalo, Miami or Las Vegas could instantly slide him into the starting lineup at DT. And while Dallas has been in a free fall, it's technically still alive in the NFC East and has tried filling that position multiple times this year. If the Cowboys firmly believe Atkins can be a starter for them in 2021, that makes the gamble all the more worthwhile.
Best fits: Bills, 49ers, Lions, Raiders
At 27, with more than two full seasons worth of starting experience at CB, Jackson could easily fetch Cincy the most of any of these vets (perhaps a high Day 2 pick), assuming a contender hungry for secondary help is willing to bet he's also been weighed down by the Bengals' lackluster teams of recent years. Buffalo, San Francisco and Las Vegas could all use veteran help on the outside as they prepare to make playoff runs, whereas Detroit has loads of cap space at its disposal and could look to find another longer-term option opposite Jeff Okudah.