The Cincinnati Bengals are riding a three-game win streak and have started to look like the team we thought they’d be. Following their most complete game of the season, they once again look like a real threat in the AFC.
Should they look to improve on that and be buyers at the trade deadline? History suggests they won’t, but we’ve seen the front office break from their old trends in new ways each of the last three offseasons, so it isn’t totally out of the question.
Could a reunion with an old friend be in order? The New York Jets are reportedly open to trading defensive end Carl Lawson. Lawson, who began his career in Cincinnati, left for New York after the 2020 season, leading to the Bengals bringing in Trey Hendrickson.
While Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard have had great seasons so far, the Bengals pass rush could use a little extra help. Joseph Ossai hasn’t been able to make much of an impact as of yet, and first round pick Myles Murphy is still raw, so the team could opt for a veteran who can make an immediate impact.
At this rate, Hendrickson and/or Hubbard are going to wear down and potentially become more prone to injury. We saw Hendrickson briefly leave Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. If Hendrickson or Hubbard were to miss time at any point, the defensive end position would suddenly be a major concern for a Bengals team that clearly has Super Bowl potential.
Lawson is on a one-year, $9,000,000 contract with $8,000,000 of it guaranteed, but most of that has already been paid out to him. Sports Illustrated writer Corbin K. Smith reports that Lawson’s cap charge for a team trading for him would be just under $600k, so it is a relatively cap-friendly deal that the Bengals could absorb without worrying about it having negative implications in the future.
While 2023 has been a down year for Lawson, he finished last season with seven sacks and 26 quarterback pressures. While he wouldn’t start if he were to return to Cincinnati, he could join the rotation and make plays when Hubbard or Hendrickson needs a breather.
His exit from Cincinnati wasn’t particularly messy, so there likely isn’t a burnt bridge.