Hobson's Choice: Rumor on a blitz

Q: ESPN.com has rumored that the Bengals are interested in LaVar Arrington. Is this true? Do you think that this would be a realistic pickup for the Bengals? If so, does that mean that they would then go to a 3-4 defense? Who would be the odd man out, if anyone? I personally think that this would make a tremendous impact to our defense and the fans would love it! What do you think? WHO DEY!
**--Nick, Greenville, OH

NICK:** The Arrington rumor looks to be exactly that. From what can be pieced together, not only are the Bengals not close to a deal with him, they aren't even in contract discussions with him and he has not been in the building, never mind left it. No doubt Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has expressed his admiration for Arrington to his agents, the Poston brothers, but that seems to be as far as it's gone.

The asking price, as has been kicked around and reported in some corners, is something in the neighborhood of $20 million guaranteed, which is going to stop the conversation at "We'd love love to, but ... "

The Bengals could do it, but they would probably have to say good-bye to half their offensive line next season to do it. I'm sure Lewis would love to have the guy like he did in that 2002 season in Washington, and he may have even told the Postons that.

And how can you blame him? With guy like Arrington, you don't care what kind of defense you're playing. Just get him in there and send him to the quarterback.

You could walk through a scenario where you get the money for Arrington (cut Brian Simmons, cut Kim Herring), but it still wouldn't be enough and now you're cutting into your core.

Look, it would be a bold, good move. Perfect for a team on the cusp. But at what price? I think that's how they're looking at it.

Lewis has an extremely good relationship with several great players and this is one to keep in mind. Maybe not right now but maybe later. Maybe even this year. But later. And definitely not at this price. But the nice thing is that Lewis isn't going anywhere and it seems be at the keep-in-touch stage.

The 3-4 thing is something that Lewis has tinkered with and has thought about doing. But they clearly don't have the personnel to play a pure Steelers 3-4. Their linebackers and linemen are too small, and they don't have a nose tackle. I'm not sure Sam Adams is the prototypical 3-4 nose, either, but you would need more than him and Arrington to convert.

But Lewis and defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan are looking to be more multiple than a base of anything. They want to be able to mix a 4-3 with a 3-4 and keep people guessing, a la New England. For now, that's why it appears they want to keep David Pollack as both a linebacker and defensive end.

Lewis will tell you he hasn't played a 3-4 since his days with the Steelers and only went to it once during his seven years in Baltimore and that was in his first year because of injury.

Of course, if they were going to switch guys and the scheme around, Lewis certainly wouldn't be one to announce it. It was big enough that he said they're thinking about it, but all indications are they prefer to be a mix and they certainly aren't scrounging for 250-pound inside backers.

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