Rushing the passer hasn’t exactly been a strong suit for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2019. As a team, they currently have just nine sacks over the course of the first nine weeks of the season, which ranks second worst in the entire NFL. While it hasn’t been the entire reason that they are on an 0-8 start to the season, it certainly isn’t helping.
What throws salt into wound for Cincy is that they had the league’s current sack leader within their grasps this offseason. As The Athletic’s Dan Pompei highlights in great detail, the Bengals had an offer for then-free agent pass rusher Shaq Barrett on the table. Pompei notes that Barrett had a two-year, $14 million offer floated to him from the Bengals, but the team pulled the offer after having him in for a visit and an MRI.
“Shaq’s first stop was Cincinnati, and he thought it was going to be his last stop,” writes Pompei. “But the Bengals wanted to be sure a shoulder injury Shaq had sustained during the previous season was sufficiently healed before they proceeded. They took an MRI and didn’t like what they saw. They pulled the offer, and Shaq visited the Bucs.”
From there, Barrett went on to sign a one-year, $4 million deal with Tampa Bay, which has turned into a home run for both sides. The Bucs are getting top-tier production out Barrett and the pass rusher is performing at an elite level in the midst of a contract year. Through eight games played, Barrett has a league-leading 10.5 sacks to go along with 28 tackles, 14 quarterback hits and four forced fumbles. Those extra 10.5 sacks would still have the Bengals in the bottom third of the league in that category, but would unquestionably have been a much more productive unit with Barrett in the fold.
In the end, this is just another rough turn of events for Cincinnati in what has been a very forgettable season to this point.