The Bengals have the New England Patriots to thank for the player whose field goal sent Cincinnati to the AFC Championship Game.
According to a story shared Monday morning by NBC Sports’ Peter King, rookie kicker Evan McPherson only landed in Cincy because of a draft-night trade the Bengals swung with the Patriots, who gave up two fourth-round picks to move up in the second round to select defensive tackle Christian Barmore.
From King’s “Football Morning in America” column:
Where’d this big-time player come from? Well, the Bengals have the New England Patriots, and Christian Barmore, to thank for McPherson.
Go back to draft weekend. The Bengals did like McPherson, who came out a year early from Florida and the team scouted heavily. Special team coordinator Darren Simmons gave his seal of approval, which was big in the eyes of draft czar and director of player personnel Duke Tobin. They liked McPherson?s physical gifts and his moxie. But the team wanted to draft at least two offensive linemen and two defensive linemen (and maybe a third) in the draft, and they knew they were going to pick Ja?Marr Chase. To get Chase, the kicker (no sure thing if they didn’t deal for extra picks) and the linemen, they needed extra picks. “We definitely needed to fill in on both lines of scrimmage,” Tobin recalled from Cincinnati on Sunday. “But we also liked the kicker, because taking him would hopefully take us out of the grind cycle of manufacturing a kicker.”
The Bengals had the 38th overall pick in the second round. Tobin wanted to move down. He engaged with New England, picking 46th. The Patriots agreed to send pick 46, plus two fourth-round picks (122 and 139) to Cincinnati for the 38th pick. That’s a hefty sum, but only a slight overpayment per the note draft-trade value chart. But the trade allowed the Bengals to pick two offensive tackles and three defensive linemen by the time the fifth round began. … That freed Cincinnati to pick McPherson early in the fifth round.
McPherson, drafted 149th overall, went 28-for-33 on field-goal attempts during the regular season and has been money in the playoffs, going a perfect 8-for-8 in wins over the Las Vegas Raiders and Tennessee Titans. His 52-yard game-winner as time expired Sunday propelled the Bengals to their first AFC title game since 1988.
The Patriots were big winners from that trade, as well. Barmore was New England’s best interior pass rusher this season and should be a pillar of its D-line for years to come.