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Could the Cincinnati Bengals Really Trade the First Overall Pick?

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Cincinnati Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin won't rule out trading the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft.

While no sports team ever whats to suffer through an unsuccessful season, one big draft pick can change the course of a franchise. That's the exact situation that the Cincinnati Bengals currently find themselves in. And while everyone assumes the club would select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow first overall, the issue doesn't seem to be cut and dry.

Although ESPN reported that Cincinnati didn't plan to trade away the first overall pick, the Bengals director of player personnel publically denied the claim. Does that mean a trade could be on the cards?

Setting the stage for Joe Burrow in Cincinnati

While it's never easy to make draft predictions in January, the stage seemed set for Joe Burrow to go to Cincinnati and step under center for the Bengals.

On a purely logistical basis, the Bengals will need a new quarterback sooner rather than later. Andy Dalton, for all his service to the franchise, seems to be on the downside of his career; Ryan Finley also got a shot under center to show what he could do but failed the audition.

While the Bengals' quarterbacks were struggling in the NFL, Joe Burrow was lighting it up in college. Although Dalton's contract—the veteran is signed for one more season—means that the Cincinnati Bengals can theoretically kick the can down the road one more time, that wouldn't make a great deal of sense; it's hard to imagine they'll be in a better situation to land a new quarterback then they are right now.

Publically, everything seemed to be coming together. The Bengals' coaching staff praised Burrow on the club's official website. The young quarterback and his father also squashed rumors that he could potentially refuse to sign with Cincinnati. On Monday, though, the saga took another turn.

The Cincinnati Bengals aren't closing the door on a trade

Despite the puzzle pieces seeming to fit together, we're still not sure what the Cincinnati Bengals are planning. While ESPN's Adam Schefter stated that the team had no intention of trading the first overall pick, the club publically pushed back against his report.

Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin told the team's official website that Schefter's report was “news to [him.]”

“I don't know that any decision has been made for what we're going to do in April. We're early in the process,” Tobin continued. “We certainly haven't had any meetings to determine that at this point. Those will be meetings we'll have as we go through the process.”

Tobin also discussed a need to boost the team's beleaguered defense, while refusing to pigeonhole his team's targets. “There's a lot of good defensive linemen, good receivers, some quarterbacks that have a ton of ability,” he explained. “There are guys at almost every position that are interesting.”

Could the Bengals really trade the first overall pick?

Although we can't know what the Cincinnati Bengals are really planning, it's hard to imagine that they'll seriously consider trading the first overall pick. At the same time, though, making a firm decision in January isn't good management.

While the Bengals do need a quarterback, they have holes all over the roster. Joe Burrow would be the most obvious fit, but it would be naive to shut the door now. The club has essentially three full months to listen to offers; even if they don't intend to trade the first overall pick, you never know what an incredibly desperate general manager could offer. As any sports fan can tell you, there's always one team executive who's willing to overpay.

At the end of the day, though, this is probably all just posturing from the Cincinnati Bengals front office. We've all seen what a franchise quarterback can mean to a struggling team; the opportunity to snag Joe Burrow is simply too good to pass up.

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Joe Kozlowski
Sports Editor

Joe Kozlowski began his career as a sports journalist in 2013 and joined Sports7 in 2019. He covers the NBA and soccer for Sports7, with specialties in legacy NBA players such as Michael Jordan and Premier League club Arsenal. Off the clock, he's a Kansas City Chiefs fan and a hockey goalie. Growing up loving Shaquille O'Neal and reading everything he could about the great big men throughout NBA history — likely because he was still tall enough, at least relative to his peers, to play center — he's continued to love learning about and exploring the historical and story-based sides of the basketball archives. As for Arsenal, Joe spent a year living in London and latched onto the local support of the club. He's barely missed a match since, loving Arsene Wenger, enduring the Banter Era, and following along through rebuilds. The Premier League interest developed into a passionate following of the Champions League, Europe's big five league, and international soccer as a whole when played at the highest level. Regardless of the sport, Joe is captivated by the stories of athletes beyond the box scores and how they push the envelope — both in terms of what we think a human is capable of accomplishing and how they find new competitive tactics to win.

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Joe Kozlowski Sports Editor

Joe Kozlowski began his career as a sports journalist in 2013 and joined Sports7 in 2019. He covers the NBA and soccer for Sports7, with specialties in legacy NBA players such as Michael Jordan and Premier League club Arsenal. Off the clock, he's a Kansas City Chiefs fan and a hockey goalie. Growing up loving Shaquille O'Neal and reading everything he could about the great big men throughout NBA history — likely because he was still tall enough, at least relative to his peers, to play center — he's continued to love learning about and exploring the historical and story-based sides of the basketball archives. As for Arsenal, Joe spent a year living in London and latched onto the local support of the club. He's barely missed a match since, loving Arsene Wenger, enduring the Banter Era, and following along through rebuilds. The Premier League interest developed into a passionate following of the Champions League, Europe's big five league, and international soccer as a whole when played at the highest level. Regardless of the sport, Joe is captivated by the stories of athletes beyond the box scores and how they push the envelope — both in terms of what we think a human is capable of accomplishing and how they find new competitive tactics to win.

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