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How the Bengals bungled their chance at a dynasty in 1999

The Bengals just had to have Akili Smith.

Once upon a time, the Cincinnati Bengals received a trade offer from the New Orleans Saints so lucrative it could’ve turned the whole franchise around. Instead, the Bengals turned it down to draft quarterback Akili Smith.

Smith made just 17 career starts in four seasons in Cincinnati, throwing five touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

If the Bengals had a do-over, they’d accept that trade offer from New Orleans in a heartbeat landing them:

  • All of the Saints’ 1999 draft picks
  • A first-round pick in 2000
  • A first-round pick in 2001
  • A second-round pick 2002

Could the Bengals have screwed up that windfall of picks? Sure. But the opportunity to build a dynasty with players like Drew Brees and LaVar Arrington falling right into their lap was right there in front of them.

Alas, the Bengals had to have Smith. On the other hand, it led them to Carson Palmer.

But, oh, what could have been.