Conventional wisdom appears to be drifting toward the conclusion that Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Levi Jones won’t be in stripes next season. However, the team is expected to hold onto Jones until after the draft, likely in case they don’t get the tackle they want with the sixth pick.
A Jones departure would (mostly) bring to a close a sad period in Bengals history in which the club’s attempt to secure its offensive line for the foreseeable future ended up having precisely the opposite effect. The Bengals gave a six-year, $40 million deal to Jones, and a five-year, $25 million contract to RT Willie Anderson in 2006, and allowed LG Eric Steinbach to depart via free agency in 2007. While Steinbach has continued to play strongly in Cleveland, Anderson was released prior to the 2008 season because, according to the Bengals, he couldn’t play any more (he then proceeded to start nearly every game for the Baltimore Ravens) and Jones, who missed just one game prior to signing his 2006 extension, has missed 17 since.
It doesn’t appear that cutting or trading Jones would have any impact on the Bengals’ cap space. The Bengals still have about $5.2 million in unamortized bonus money to account for, but 2009′s share of that bonus money, plus Jones’ north-of-$3 million 2009 salary, should be at least equal to, if not greater than, that remaining bonus. So while the Bengals would be required to carry about $5 million in dead money, their cap space wouldn’t change appreciably.
Which brings me to this blurb by James Walker who, as usual, appears to have his facts a bit scrambled. No, if the Bengals cut or trade Chad Johnson they do not take a $4.865 million “salary-cap hit,” any more than they were going to take an $8 million salary-cap hit for dealing him last season. Both numbers represent the amount of unamortized signing bonus the team would have to absorb (a.k.a. dead money), but neither takes into account the offsetting savings in terms of salary and that year’s portion of signing bonus allocation.
In 2009, Ocho Cinco is scheduled to make $4.5 million in salary alone. The Bengals will also have to account for half that remaining unamortized bonus this year as well, so Chad’s cap number if he stays is something like $6.9 million. If Chad is cut, all that remains on the books is that $4.865 million in dead money. Far from representing a cap hit, moving Chad would actually free up about $2 million in cap space.