The coaching staff remains stable after posting a winning record in back-to-back seasons for the first time in 30 years. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer were both passed over for head-coaching opportunities after landing interviews. The biggest priority is ending the longest playoff victory drought in the NFL (22 seasons). If that's going to happen, the Bengals will need to surround a physically limited Andy Dalton with more playmakers.
Biggest free agents
» RT Andre Smith: An out-of-shape disappointment early in his career, Smith emerged as one of the NFL's finest right tackles in a contract season. He's a road-grader in the running game.
What they need
Depth is a concern on the defensive line, at linebacker, and in the secondary with key veterans reaching free agency.
Offseason crystal ball
It's hardly a surprise that tight-fisted owner/GM Mike Brown has plenty of salary-cap space available. As always, that money will first be used to sign his own players. Defensive end Michael Johnson's return under the franchise tag means the defense's second-most valuable player behind Geno Atkins will be back in the fold. Johnson's 11.5 sacks overshadowed his stellar work as a run defender. Signing Geathers remains a high priority.
The Bengals could end up losing Smith if they don't reach a long-term deal by March. Look for Cincinnati to take a playmaking tailback in the first couple of rounds of April's draft.