Did the Cincinnati Bengals actively and intentionally ‘tank’ during the 2019 season, the first under head coach Zac Taylor, in order to secure the first overall pick ultimately used to draft quarterback Joe Burrow out of LSU? With Brian Flores and Hue Jackson recently coming out and saying that that’s what the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns had done, respectively, it may become part of the conversation this week.
After all, Burrow has the Bengals in the Super Bowl right now in just his second season. He’s the first quarterback drafted first overall to take his team to the Super Bowl by his second season. The talent he has shown through his first two years is exactly the reason the Bengals wouldn’t even consider doing anything but using their first overall pick closing on two years ago.
According to Ian Rapoport, the Dolphins themselves phoned up the Bengals that year. They wanted to try to work out a trade to get the first overall pick. Reportedly, they were willing to offer three first-round picks, including their own fifth overall selection.
The Bengals picked up, and quickly hung up, according to Rapoport. I’m not even sure if it got far enough to discuss compensation. But three first-round picks, even considering the difference between the first and the fifth, is nothing to sneeze at.
The Dolphins ultimately used their three selections on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (5th), tackle Austin Jackson (18th), and cornerback Noah Igbinoghene (30th). Jackson is a starter, while Igbinoghene is not. The pick used on Jackson is the one the Pittsburgh Steelers traded the Dolphins for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
During his second season, coming off of a torn ACL, Burrow led the NFL in completion percentage, topping over 70, completing 366 of 520 attempts for 4,611 yards, with 34 touchdowns to 14 interceptions, averaging a league-leading 8.9 yards per attempt. He was also sacked an NFL-high 51 times.
But he led the Bengals to a 10-7 record (10-6 in the games he started), and they’re now 3-0 in the postseason, having not won in the playoffs as a franchise prior to this since 1990. He has four touchdowns passes to two interceptions and 842 passing yards through three postseason games with a 96.2 quarterback rating.
Tagovailoa is 13-8 as a starter for the Dolphins through two seasons. He has completed 449 of 678 pass attempts (66.2%) for 4,567 yards with 27 touchdown passes to 15 interceptions. He also has six rushing touchdowns on 78 attempts for 237 yards. But he also has 10 fumbles, nine of which came this past year (as did 10 of his interceptions).