The Bengals go into next week's NFL scouting combine with the potential there is no free agency before the April draft because of the CBA stalemate.
The experts are saying teams can't panic and have to draft as usual, which means don't reach for need.
Even before quarterback
With running back
The Bengals may have been mulling taking a quarterback in the middle rounds long before Palmer's walk in the woods, but certainly not one that would replace him right away. So what impact does the trade demand have? Do they take one early now?
If the Bengals decide there isn't a QB worthy and don't reach at No. 4, won't they be rewarded with a premium defensive player (LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson or Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley), or the best receiver in the draft in Georgia's A.J. Green?
And corner may be a need with
The one glaring defensive need is safety. And with new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's scheme of the West Coast variety, tight end may be a position that also has to be addressed with 34-year-old
Eschewing need and drafting the best player has served the Bengals well on this roster, starting in 2006 in the second round. With Levi Jones in place at left tackle, return man Devin Hester would have been a boon at the 55th pick. But since Hester had no true position, LSU left tackle
In 2009, before
And in a sense they did that last year when they didn't overpay on a trade up to get USC safety Taylor Mays in the second round. At various points the Bengals would have had to give up the picks that turned into defensive end
And shouldn't linemen always seem to take precedence if there isn't much difference? In 2007 the Bengals opted for Auburn running back Kenny Irons in the second round when USC center Ryan Kalil was there. Irons never made it to a regular-season game and they found their back of the future on the street in Benson.