How the Bengals can set up Joe Burrow to succeed as a rookie

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Does Burrow have leverage over the Bengals? (1:44)

Mike Tannenbaum, Mike Greenberg and Dan Graziano debate Joe Burrow's claim that he has leverage over the Bengals in the 2020 NFL draft. (1:44)

CINCINNATI -- What happens with the first overall pick in the NFL draft should be cut and dry.

Since the Cincinnati Bengals secured the top slot, everything has pointed toward the selection of LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner who led the Tigers to a national title and posted one of the best passing seasons in college football history.

In an interview with "The Dan Patrick Show" before the Super Bowl, Burrow said he wants to play for a franchise committed to pursuing championships. Cincinnati hasn't won a playoff game since 1991 despite a stretch of five straight postseason appearances from 2011-15.

Here are four things the Bengals can do to set Burrow up for success in his first season and beyond.

Secure a big-play wide receiver

A.J. Green's franchise tag designation is almost a foregone conclusion at this point. Green has repeatedly said he'll begrudgingly play on the tag, worth around $18.4 million, and the Bengals are unwilling to part with him in 2020. Green makes a massive difference. During quarterback Andy Dalton's nine seasons in Cincinnati, he lost 20 of his 26 starts without Green, with 13 of those coming last season. With Green on the field, Dalton was 64-41-2. When Green is healthy, he's still, even at 32 by the start of next season, one of the best offensive weapons in the league.

If the situation with Green somehow falls through, the Bengals could target the Cowboys' Amari Cooper, who is set to become a free agent. After he was traded from the Raiders to Dallas in 2018, Cooper helped Dallas make the playoffs. Last season, Cooper, who will be 26 by the start of the season, was eighth in the league in receiving yards (1,189).

Of course, if the Cowboys don't tag Cooper and let him walk, there will be several teams interested in him. But the Bengals need another dynamic receiver to pair with Tyler Boyd to help Burrow's transition to the NFL.

Make a big free agency push in the trenches

This could answer two of the biggest criticisms surrounding the franchise. The Bengals rarely spend big money on free agents from other teams. Cincinnati also struggled on both sides of the line of scrimmage last season.

New England Patriots left guard Joe Thuney could change both of those trends. In 2019, Thuney was ranked second in Pass Block Win Rate, an ESPN metric powered by NFL Next Gen Stats. To put that in perspective, rookie left guard Michael Jordan was the highest-ranked Bengal at No. 31. But after Thuney, there's a considerable drop-off in pass-blocking interior lineman who will be available on the open market.

Then there's the other side of the line of scrimmage. Although the Bengals' pass rush was resurgent at the end of the season, they need to give defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo and defensive line coach Nick Eason more with which to work.

The Steelers' Bud Dupree and the Ravens' Matthew Judon, two edge rushers who would be good fits in Anarumo's 3-4 scheme, could warrant long-term investments. Even if Cincinnati doesn't land a big name, making a push for a quality player is a good sign for the franchise.

Be proactive with roster moves

Cincinnati needs to maximize its expendable resources before the draft. That means shedding offensive tackle Cordy Glenn's contract and ending an untenable relationship for both sides by cutting or trading Dalton. Being proactive not only provides a little clarity during a pivotal offseason, but it also shows Cincinnati is willing to make changes to end a four-year playoff drought. That also means giving running back Joe Mixon a contract extension before the season and avoiding the drama that surrounded Green last season. If Cincinnati wants to shift the national perception, those three moves are a good place to start.

Build an indoor practice facility

This offseason is all about proving the Bengals will be more dynamic about how they operate. One simple way to make it happen: develop a plan to build an indoor practice facility, which is increasingly common at every level of football. Last year, weather forced the Bengals to practice inside Paul Brown Stadium on multiple occasions. Meanwhile, the University of Cincinnati, which doesn't operate with the budget of a Power Five program, has a bubble for their fields in Clifton, Ohio.

In college sports, upgrading facilities shows coaches and recruits a commitment to pursuing a winning program. That same philosophy applies to the Bengals, who were recently called out by their former quarterback Carson Palmer as an organization that didn't want to win at the highest level. Costs may vary depending on the specifics surrounding the construction of a facility in downtown Cincinnati, where the stadium and team facility sits, but it shouldn't be an issue for an NFL franchise.