The Cincinnati Bengals reached Super Bowl 56, marking their first trip to the season’s final Sunday since 1989. Additionally, the run included the Bengals’ first playoff win since 1990.
It was a team effort, of course, but quarterback Joe Burrow and rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase stood out in particular. The duo’s tenure has been too short to include them among the top 5 Cincinnati Bengals offensive players of all time. However, it may be impossible to leave them off similar lists in the future.
The Bengals may not be the most storied franchise, but they were home to a number of iconic offensive NFL stars. Read on for our choices for top offensive players that have played for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Top 5 Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Players of All Time
5. James Brooks, RB, 1984-1991
Brooks stands as one of the best running backs to suit up for the Bengals. He beats out the likes of Corey Dillon, Rudi Johnson, Joe Mixon, and others thanks to two factors. One, Brooks was a dynamic back, producing as a runner (he rushed for 1,000-plus yards three times) and as a receiver out of the backfield (he caught 54-plus passes twice). But, two, Brooks contributed to what was the Bengals’ last playoff victory prior to last season’s run. That serves as the boost in this case.
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4. Chad Johnson, WR, 2001-2010
Johnson produced similar numbers as A.J. Green, another iconic Bengal, and someone who is deserving of being included on his own merits. We’re giving the edge to Johnson because of his personality and the extra entertainment he provided fans around the NFL. Whether it was a soundbite (or two) or a colorful touchdown celebration, Johnson talked the talk, walked the walk, and made fans pay attention to the Bengals.
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3. Boomer Esiason, QB, 1984-1992
Esiason is the first of two quarterbacks on this list. Spoiler alert: Andy Dalton is not next despite superior statistics in a number of categories. As we know, the modern game relies much more heavily on the passing game than when Esiason was taking snaps for the Bengals. Esiason’s best season was 1988 when he led the Bengals to the franchise’s second Super Bowl of the decade. He was named an All-Pro and earned league MVP honors as well.
2. Ken Anderson, QB, 1971-1986
Anderson gets the nod ahead of Esiason thanks to his longer tenure in Cincinnati. He made 172 starts with the Bengals compared to 123. Similar to his successor, Anderson’s best season — 1981 — included a spot on the All-Pro first team, the league’s MVP award, and a trip to the Super Bowl. The similarities don’t end there, and that’s unfortunate for Who Dey Nation because the Bengals lost both Super Bowls at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers.
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1. Anthony Munoz, LT, 1980-1992
The number one player on this list doesn’t have gaudy statistics or flashy highlights, but he’s the only Hall of Famer on this list nonetheless. Munoz protected Anderson’s blindside and anchored the line for Esiason. A leaky offensive line is a surefire way to sabotage an offense. Case in point: Joe Burrow suffered a torn ACL on a sack in 2020, and even though he overcame 70 sacks (including postseason) in 2021, the lack of protection reared its head in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. An offensive line is a unit, but Munoz’s presence certainly elevated the team’s play. The Bengals finished first in the division four times with Munoz on the team. They finished first only twice in the 12 seasons prior to his arrival.